Time passes slowly and swift as the second hand on a clock. We are at 2 years and 2 months since the stroke that nearly took my husbands life…but did not. I have had a dream of standing at the pier at the end of our street and crying so much that I raised the ocean level. How silly is that? But I have had the dream often lately.
One of the things the stroke took away was thinking our life was small. I was never envious of others but more in awe of the trips people took and the fantastic restaurants they seemed to eat in and the beautiful houses. I thought man that is pretty good living. I thought I lived a boring life, but happy. Thinking others would believe it a small life without much adventure. The stroke removed all of those thoughts and replaced them with daily reminders of a big life.
Often it feels like there are countless things I want that the stroke took away and then I think of the things the stroke gave me that I feel guilty on both counts. The stroke took away certain freedoms we all enjoyed. My husbands ability to drive and go places with our sons. That is a big one he feels less of a man because he cannot drive and he cannot drive because it would not be safe. He cannot take care of my best friends autistic son by himself. This was one great joy and purpose he wanted to do until he was too old. He use to tell me that all the time.
He always loved music and when he was in the hospital I laid my phone near his ear and played everything from Gospel to his favorite Bob Dylan. When he was wheel chair bound and fidgety from the stroke and the drugs. We listened to music all the time. I sang to him in a totally horrible out of tune voice…I mean I would get stoned at a Karaoke bar with all drunks that is how bad my of a singing voice. He liked it. Now when music comes on whether a song, a commercial or even just a sound bite he starts dancing, sometimes just with his hands, sometimes sitting down, sometimes dancing across the floor. I mean every time it is so amazing.
I made him cry at Christmas because we usually do not buy each other anything and I bought him a couple items to add to his growing pile of home exercise equipment. He loved them but cried saying he wanted to get me a present but kept forgetting what it was…this breaks my heart. I question myself how did I not realize and just give him the stuff before Christmas. I will try to learn to know the stroke brain more.
What do I miss? His voice was very mellow and soothing, now it is deeper and kind of gruff. This is from the trachea tube and the vent. His inability to speak correctly I want to know everything he has to say! I especially want to understand him when he prays it is emotional and heartfelt and sometimes I do not understand what he is saying but God knows and that is all.
I miss the quickness of his mind, his ability to make such good decisions. He was the best rudder my wobbly ship could ever have and now I am without it. He knew how to do so much and I realize I know how to do so little.
He doesn’t remember to turn his toothbrush on but he does remember to brush his teeth. He cannot drive and give me a break but he wants too. He wants to be whole. He just doesn’t realize how whole he is today. I try to get him to believe me that the stroke did take things away but left us here together.
Sometimes I lay in bed and hear that scuffing shuffle and think what is that noise and then I remember it is him his walk is different since the stroke. Sometimes when I first awake and he says “Good Morning” so clearly I almost forget, until I need to shave his face and help him with his socks and underwear.
I just keep saying he is here and I am so thankful to not have an empty side of my bed , and have to look at an empty chair. I am thankful when he calls me Mama, and I am thankful for every good shave I give him with no nicks. I am thankful to be there to remind him what day of the week it is and I am thankful to see the anticipation and joy on his face when he knows he is going to the gym. I am thankful for the laughter we share together. I am thankful for when he hugs me. I am thankful to rewash the dishes when he forgets to use soap. I am thankful when he can put his shoes on and tie them himself. I am thankful when he shows off his biceps and tells me look at the muscles on my legs.
How could I not be thankful. I am not alone. I have the love of my life still by my side. I have a constant reminder that God saves, heals and loves us. I am thankful for the big and the small. I am thankful that I know how to appreciate life more than ever. So I look to tomorrow and think of the things that I know without a doubt.