Two months ago the shaman I visit to help me keep my chakras aligned, predicted a Tower experience for me. This Tower experience, though uncomfortable, was destined to free me to do my own work in life. Today, I am in tune with my own strength, my inner fire, and most of all, my capacity to love with an open heart. During this time period I made myself a cup of tea, and the little saying on the tag read, “Love is your greatest strength.” I’m still waiting to see where this deeply felt strength of love is going to lead me.
My husband, who in many ways was my psychological anchor, is now in a nursing home with dementia. In hindsight, I can see that the dementia came on earlier than I was aware of. He had stopped socializing, his mood could often be described as crabby, and there were many little memory slips, some of which put regular life at risk, such as forgetting the lit cigarette in his hand. The Tower experience began with my honey not calling the doctor to take care of what turned out to be a pneumonia severe enough that he entered Albany Med for an empyema to drain a liter of pus off of his lung. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the time away from home made the dementia worse. He is now in a nursing facility.
The journey to get him there was not easy. He did not want to be away from home. He had episodes of pulling out his own IVs and calling me to come get him, because he was being held against his will. The doctors sent him home, despite my request for nursing rehabilitation. I did the best I could, but he would not cooperate with my efforts to care for him, and his physical state and dementia worsened until I could ask the ambulance crew to take him against his will. I am forever grateful to that visiting nurse who initiated getting him the help he needed. God guided the rest of the steps I needed to keep him with the care he needs for his physical well being through the people I met who gave me the information I needed to act on through each step of the process. As for his mental and emotional well being, I visit as often as I can, which is about three times a week. He still knows who I am, and although his short term memory is shit, we can still reminisce and laugh at aspects of our life together.
I had hoped to be able to bring him home for visits, but this is not seeming practical. My heart is having a very hard time adjusting to all of this. During the week he was home, we had intimate heart to heart talks that caused us to fall in love all over again. The separation is hard, but he so obviously cannot take care of himself. While I am home, his absence jumps out at me from how largely he lived in the space of this home we have created. While I am with him, we are present to one another, but it is clear to me that his spirit has chosen this slow way of saying goodbye to the world that he loves.
My husband is a sensualist. Until the hospital food, he had a wide girth. Cooking and a gourmet diet was something he loved and lived for. I could often count on coming home from work to an excellent meal of Indian, Thai, or Chinese style cuisine. He frequently bugged me to bake extraordinarily rich desserts, just to satisfy his sweet tooth, never mind the diabetes. Despite his sweet tooth, he did take good care of his body, exercising and working out, pushing himself to his physical limits, until he suddenly stopped. This too was probably part of the dementia.
With my husband’s absence, I have had to step up and take care of all he used to do. I have had to recognize what a strong and capable individual I am. I have to find time to visit him despite my strange work hours and other responsibilities. I find this time, because I am still sustained in his presence, even though our time together is often just that, quiet presence. I cry a lot. It is not solely sorrow. There is joy here too that is too strongly felt for containment. How do I capture the aspects of our life together into these moments of presence? It is too soon to say good bye while I yet have him, but it feels like a death too, because the comfort zone of husband at home is no more.
Yet every death, large or small, brings a new beginning. Right now we have love without arguments or emphasis on getting our own way. We were two strong willed people, but now there are no differences of opinion, just two people holding hands while they still can. I find myself willing to forgive his slip-ups. He cannot help it. Dementia wrecks his fine intelligence, but so far it has not taken away his sense of humor, the light in his eyes, nor his love of music. So I turn on apple music. He says he likes to let the music swirl in his head like the wind. May we still have some time, my dearest, to listen to music together, while the Winds of Spirit take you on a journey that I cannot follow.