One step back. This time it only took 47 minutes to stop crying. I know that because the clock in my car is just below the radio, where I was trying to find a station to distract my thoughts. Jerry had a hard day. He had a hard night.
Today, after painting myself into a canvas full of mud, I decided it was time to stop. I wanted to go see my Jerr Bear. When I arrived, sweet Helen, the maintenance girl, was coming down the hall. She stopped me and said, “Jerry, was really missing you last night. He was having a really hard time.” Oh no. I opened the door to the unit and there he was, walking toward me...crying. This time we did our expected sob and hug but he didn’t stop on the walk to his room. I mean....his heart must be beginning to break. To watch him cry... it’s terrible. To be separated after all these years....well.... that’s terrible too.
We cuddled for a while, then Miranda, the night nurse, came in, “Oh, excuse me.” “No, no. Come in. Have I met you before?” I asked. Miranda had been on duty the night before and said Jerry had such a hard time and she just wanted to check in on him. He jumped up to greet her with his huge smile, but quickly his tears began to flow again. Miranda told me how she watched football with him last night to keep him distracted. She thinks what triggered it was that she asked about his “sweetheart.” Jerry has called me his sweetheart. Nothing in my bag of tricks worked. I hung up some of his clothes, we walked the dog, went for a car ride and had mexican food. The whole time our trivial chit chat was intermingled with tears. Oh, I HATE THIS DISEASE! He painfully misses me and it’s so mean for us to be apart.
To give him incentive to go back, we went to the local Harris Teeter and bought a chocolate cake to take to his nurses. (Jerry loves chocolate.) As we approached the parking lot, he said, “I wish I didn’t have to......” I said, “I know. But we’ve got to take your friends their cake.” As we walked into the unit, he skipped a jig as he approached them and held his arms wide, as if to say, “I’M HERE!” He loves those girls. But, within minutes, he was beginning to tear up again. This time, I could see he wasn’t going to let me leave gently. Nurse Sandra tried to get him to sit by her, but if I took one step away, he’d grab on to my arm and begin to cry. So, the three of us walked down the hall to the front door. She said, she’s only seen one other couple as sad as we are. You see, most residents are older parents, not spouses. Jerry’s the baby. I am in my 50’s and he is just 62. We’ve been together since I was 17...married when I was 19. That’s a lifetime!
So, it took 47 minutes to stop crying on the way home. That’s less than the first time. Bluegrass is tomorrow night.