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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Acceptance & Other Ramblings

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.


Mo Stroke said...

I just found your blog and I'm grateful for the story you're sharing. My mom had a massive stroke in February and we're all so, so far from acceptance. Reading your perspective helps in a way I can't explain. Thank you.

Theresa Loder said...

Great blog Diane...loved it especially the ending

J.L. Murphey said...

Diane, {hugs} Acceptance is the hardest one to get a grip on. It is for me anyhow. I do it in small increments to make it easier to swallow.

Nothing will be the same as before Bob's stroke. You've learned so much about yourself in almost three years. Things you may not have realized if Bob hadn't had his stroke. Life is ever changing and adapting. Otherwise, you are just going through it coasting.

So what did you do with Bob's things?

Grace Carpenter said...

I got teary reading this. My husband was been feeling so, so tired these days. Sending you hugs.

Diane said...

Jo, I hate to say, but all his things are still where he left them.... except the lamp, I did cart that out to the garage, masking tape and all.

Anonymous said...


When my wife went down hill so fast with parkinsons and lupus, acceptance was the most difficult part for me to deal with. I know I went through the grief period prior to acceptance. It's only natural for us to want and even expect our loved one to get better and to be what they used to be, though deep down, we do know it's probably not going to happen.

Once I found the acceptance, I was able to move on and make the plans and do the things necessary to make life a bit easier for me, and at the same time, improve the care and future for Karen. For me, it was the point of "moving on", though I still did the caregiving and met her needs and expectations. But, it was the point I began making plans differently and thinking differently about the future. I found that it took away a little bit of stress I put on myself too.

Perhaps you are at that acceptance point, perhaps not. But when you do, it's going to be a very depressing day or two followed by much better days and the need to begin "cleaning" in areas that don't directly affect Bob. At least that is how it went for me.
I suspect acceptance affects each of us differently, but that is how it affected me.

With lots of hugs & prayers, Dan