Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The next week was an odd week. My mother was there and it hadn’t been long enough for me to have medical appointments so I was at the house with her most of the day. Even as groggy as I was, I realized I had some great friends. My friends David and Cindy Armstrong helped me start a project that my wife had always wanted to do but I’d been kind of putting off, planting a garden. We’d always kind of busy and out and about people so I didn’t want something that so literally tied us down to the house but it was something that I realized I was going to be stuck to both physically and financially for a while so thought it would be great. They really knew what they were doing and since it was their child’s spring break, the three of them came over a few hours everyday to tear part of this tree down, get some dirt. Everyday every important decision I would defer to my wife getting home from her work day which for some reason kept being later and later.
Friends from high school, college, the running group, ultimate came in from within town and from a few hours away like they had at Duke to say hello, to have a meal, to drop off a gift, to help with the garden. The thought that I had during the Happy Hour and during the process kept echoing that maybe I’d done many things wrong in my life but I’d have to have done a couple right to have people being so kind. My belief in humanity kept rising but my belief in myself kept somewhat falling.
I kept trying to address whatever I had done wrong with my wife. I worked harder physically on the garden than I probably should have and while I was supposed to be doing more memory and language games for “rehab,” I did things that I hoped would impress my wife. She had always had wall words on the refrigerator so for the first time ever I organized several hundred of them into starts with A, B etc so they would be easier to find. She got home and shrugged it off. The sentiment of being overwhelmed about how much I loved her, and the awareness that I had neglected to take care of our relationship appropriately was on me but apparently it was on her as well. It’s amusing the way we sometimes try to control the universe when we can’t. She had for the first time in our marriage organized every room in the house while I had the diagnosis. I was for the first time in my life making the house somewhere to live instead of just somewhere to sleep to try to please her. She had lost weight during the diagnosis but it wasn’t until I was stressed about her. My death had not scared me but these conversations about losing the love of my life was scaring the life out of me.
The conversations between her and I continued on a loop where I would try to appeal to her about the fact that here the main changes I had decided to do in my life was a tattoo which symbolized our family and changes to the house that she had asked for years before and that sadly, I had dismissed. That was my loop and her loop seemed to be that she didn’t know if she wanted the rest of her life with me; I couldn’t honestly understand. Four or five days after I got home she came back from the gym and said sorry about the conversations that she was just stressed and needed to get to the gym more. That was the first night I slept more than 45 minutes at a time.
The friends kept coming at night too to help me play board games that were memory and language centered. My mom, ever a kitchen goddess, continued to line up their food plates. I’ve always been a proud guy and that week was breaking my pride left and right. For the first time ever I was having to accept help for some basic things and the woman that I’d created playlists that reminded me of her to get through the worried days was so distant.