Early, this morning, I was walking the dog and we went to a nearby lake, which really isn't so much a lake but a pond. I mean, it's a little pond, at that. Bob and I used to laugh about how in the South they call anything bigger than a mud puddle a "lake" whereas up North it would simply be a pond.
Anyway, Boomer and I were walking to the lake and I was thinking about a lot of stuff. Rambling thoughts, mostly. One of which was what should I blog about? And I couldn't think of a thing to write about. Because, truth be told, there's nothing very exciting going on, no breakthroughs in recovery, no funny stories here and I am down in the dumps and Bob has not been feeling well. So Boomer and I are walking in the early morning humid air and I see this car parked on the street. And it's a vintage 1970's Monte Carlo, maroon with a white vinyl top, and immediately, in my mind, springs a vision of Margie, this woman I used to know, who had that exact car, the exact color, way back in 1978 or 1977 or about then. I remember the first time I saw her with that car because she was wearing a pair of maroon colored pants, a black top and a pure white rabbit fur jacket. She got out of that car and said to me, "I just bought this outfit and I liked it so much that I had to buy a car to match!"
Strange, the things we remember... Strange, the things that pop into one's mind.
I've been thinking a lot of about acceptance lately. That's the "final stage" in those "stages of grief". And I tell you, I've been through all those stages: the denial, the bargaining, the anger and depression. All of them, since the stroke, except acceptance. I was, for a long time, stuck in that denial stage, truly believing that Bob would get better, that he would be "Stronger After Stroke" as Peter Levine's book tells us. That he would walk again, eat again, read and write and speak again. And I had such high hopes even though it does seem that Bob has long ago accepted his fate. I tell you, I have had trouble with that acceptance thing.
The other day, I got an e-mail from The National Stroke Association titled ACT FAST: 9 minutes or less, the e-mail started with "When a stroke hits, every second counts--think Fast. Two million brain cells can die every minute during a stroke--Act Fast!" or something like that and I tell you, I flipped my lid and e-mailed them back something about instead of e-mailing me this crap, they should be e-mailing those ICU nurses in, by the way, Your Stroke Center Certified Hospital! who nearly killed my husband. And I probably shouldn't have done that, but it felt good....
I have been living for over two and half years now sort of like a modern day Miss Haversham. Like everything just stopped one day in October 2010 and I am still waiting for it to pick up where it left off. I mean, Bob's sunglasses are still on the dash of The Green Machine, where he left them, and his hairbrush and hand sanitizer are still in the cup holder along with some weird little gizmos that he was using to work on the car. All of that, still there, covered in dust and cobwebs, as if I expect him to get in that car and drive away. But I can't bear to move them, to put them away. Because to do so is to give up hope.
And then there's his headphones, which are still on "his nightstand" by "his side" of "our" bed even though he hasn't been in our bed for over two years. But he used to wear those headphones when he couldn't sleep and wanted to listen to late night talk radio and not disturb me. Those headphones, too, are covered in dust and cobwebs and his shoes are still parked under that nightstand, where he left them two years and 7 months ago, I still cannot bear to touch them at all...
It's such a harsh word.
This morning, we were at the lake, Boomer and I. We were alone except for a Great Blue Heron standing statue-like at the edge of the water. I sat down on a park bench, just looking out at the pond and thinking about what to blog about. And a car pulled up and this guy got out with one of those fancy metal detector things. He put on some headphones and started scanning the ground and I thought, what on earth is he searching for?
And I thought, what am I searching for? Then, I thought about Bob's headphones on the nightstand. And his favorite soup that's still in the cupboard. And the lamp he started to restore and it's still covered with masking tape...
And we came home, Boomer and I. I had left the radio on for Bob and when I opened the door, Elton John was singing that song that goes: butterflies are free to fly, fly away... and for some reason that nearly brought me to tears. I fed the dog. And then I sat down next to Bob in his hospital bed as I always do for our morning chat.
And Bob said: "Sad?"
I said, "Oh no, just thinking. Thinking about what to write about."
He said, "I want.... to tell.... you... a story."
"A long, long time ago..... One morning...... It happened...."
And he didn't say any more, so I said, "What happened, one morning, a long, long time ago?"
He said, "Um... I don't know."
And I laughed and said, "Well, it's a good thing you're not the writer in this family."
"Yeah," he said. Then he laughed, too.