Life in limbo is, well, hard to explain. Can’t move forward. Can’t go back. I bought a fancy bike and ride for miles and miles now. Figured it is what I have to do to survive. Every joint aches! (We’ll see how long it lasts.) Jerry has adjusted well to his new environment. That makes it easier for me to handle. We had a little glitch a couple about a month ago. Hurricane Irene came through and his roommate passed away. Stress levels were high and the “inmates” were restless. However, most of the staff handled it well and I was very impressed how things were handled in the long run. There are a lot of “firsts” coming up. There was the first night alone, the first time at church alone, the first time at a social event alone, the first communion. The first trip to see the grandkids alone. The first previously coveted “girls night out”. The holidays are coming up. The first Thanksgiving. The first Christmas. These are somewhat of a dilemma. Do I stay with him? Do I take him out? Do I have a “mock” holiday with him and go be with the grandkids...knowing he is the one who is alone on the holiday. Will he even realize it’s the Christmas day? Where will he worship? Where will he spend Christmas Eve and will he have a candle light service. (Uh oh, I’m getting weepy.) I think I’ll just run away to Hawaii.
One thing I know for sure. I am not alone. Yesterday, at church, I decided to try a women’s Bible study. I recognized a few of them. All ages; from 30 to 80. Didn’t know too much about many of them but I knew there was a lot of wisdom and were a lot of life stories in that room. When I sat down, they welcomed me as if they knew me. Some knew my story and had watched me with Jerry for years. Even the pastor’s wife came over and gave me a hug. It was as if they had been waiting. The woman sitting beside me was my age and had lost her husband unexpectedly shortly after moving here 5 months ago. She is an artist, too, from Maine. We were traveling a similar path but different. We both experience crazy mood swings that leave us in puddles, but with resilience, and faith in God, both of us are trying to reinvent ourselves. Others have grieved and survived. Others had never felt grief of this kind of magnitude, but attended class because their husbands do not go to church. We’re beginning a study on Heaven. Imagine that.
I brought Jerry home last week for the day. It was the second time since he moved to New Bern in February. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 8 months. He has lost so much weight and now weighs 150 pounds. He gone from a size 36 to a 32 inch waist. There have been days when it takes a while for him to realize who I am. Initially, when he sees me, he still comes running with tears of joy. Then, he fades out. Then he resurges. The optimum visit is about two hours. Any less than that, I think he feels short changed. Any more than that, he becomes fatigued. During the drive home, I asked him if he knew he had a beach house. He said, “No.” I wondered how he would react. I picked up his favorite shrimp basket and we had a relaxed lunch out on the deck. Montana was at his feet and he would occasionally reached down and give her a tap on the head. Then, while still on the deck, I pulled out my shears and gave him a haircut. He really needed it...and those eyebrows. Whew! Those things definitely have not gotten any skinnier! Once I got him all spruced up, we watched a run of Everybody Loves Raymond, then we rode out to the beach to see if we could find some dolphin showing off in the water. He becomes a little anxious after about twenty minutes of any activity, then begins to pace. Once our twenty minutes of dolphin viewing was up...I could tell he was ready to go.
At that point, I figured I should take that que to get him in the car and head back. It’s a 45 minute drive to New Bern and it was torture. I was the first to cry. Then he started. “Turn around. Turn around.” he cried. Whah! Damn! What had I done? Get a grip, Sue! Somehow, I managed to divert his attention on a cheeseburger. “Let’s get a cheeseburger when we get back. "Are you hungry?” I asked. That seemed to do it. I scrambled to fill the drive with funny talk from his fraternity days...how he drove a VW beetle into the front door of the frat house at Alabama. That brought a smile and a “BAMA".
Once we arrived in New Bern his anxiety seemed to roll away and peace came over him. I could see he truly was “at home” there. My drive home was, well, numb. It usually is. It’s an expected response that I’ve gotten use to and after the night has passed and I’ve eaten every comfort food in the house, I wake up to a new day. Ready to paint, bike, walk, or move forward in some sort of fashion. We’ve still got a long way to go. Three days will pass and we’ll visit once more. The first is to cry, the second is to be normal, the third is to anticipate seeing him again. "He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother."