I met with a new acquaintance this afternoon. His daughter and my oldest daughter are dear friends. About a year and a half ago, his wife was diagnosed frontal temporal lobe dementia. That was Jerry's original diagnosis.
I've only been been with Robbie and his wife, Annie , a couple of times. They've been together since high school. Childhood sweethearts. She, now is faced with this disease, but I'm not sure she realizes what is happening. Robbie, on the other hand, is trying to be incredibly brave, but I see the pain and dispair in his eyes. It makes me want to ball my eyes out! I see that despair that comes with the reality of losing the love of your life that you've had for over 40 years and not being able to do a thing to stop it. While he puts on a polite smile and asks me questions about Jerry, I can tell he is only grasping to be able to cope.
As we sat on the deck watching all the little grand boys playing in the sound, Annie would comment "They are so precious." That seemed to maintain her interest. Then she'd say, "Robbie?", indicating her dependance on him.
For Robbie and I, there is a sense of "this is not really happening", yet a slight comfort in knowing we are not alone. For so long, I still gravitated to "this is not really happening." I think it's what kept me going for so long. It's a beautiful thing when you find friends who can identify with the situation and accept the changes along with you. It helps in coping with the loss.
It's been so long now, and I think I've adjusted to this next phase. Each shift (or decline) requires another adjustment..another acceptance. I truly love being with Jerry, but I am now able to leave, knowing he is secure in his own world. There's something comforting about that. For so long, I pined for him He pined for me. But now, we are at home, separately. Even today, when I went to visit, he was so happy to see me. We walked down to his room together, but when I turned around he had disappeared from my site. He had walked away, down the hall, into another resident's room. He was completely oblivious to the fact that I was there. One minute I ignited a smile, the next minute he was gone.
That seems to be the way it is in Alzheimer world. But, once accepted, I suppose it is good. Good to not being stuck in the moment of loss, but to be moving on with a heart full of treasures to cherish.