Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Unspeakable sadness

Tonight I experienced unspeakable sadness.  Its not that I won't experience worse in the future but for now, I'm at my limit.

I had an unbelievable day at work.  I spent three excruciating hours working on a budget that kept locking up.  My IT guy helped me troubleshoot the problem by changing browsers.  I worked on part of the budget and then found that the corporate office was completing that portion of the budget and my time was wasted.  Oh Snap! So, I was emotionally spent going into the evening.

I left work and headed for the "Happy Place".  I arrived while the residents were in the middle of dinner.  One of the angels was sitting between Gary and another resident and feeding them both.  I took over feeding him.  I kissed him hello and he had no visible recognition.  He ate every bite.   At one point I said, "I love you very much."  He replied, "I love you, too."      

He finished eating the three course meal and once the Boston Crème Pie was gone he turned his attention to the "Lapkin" around his neck.  Many of the residents use the bib-like napkin to keep clothing clean.  He kept reading the label over and over.....then he started putting the label in his mouth.  I tried to turn his attention to something else but it was a wasted effort.

I sat there and looked around the room and attempted to amuse myself by watching and listening to the residents.

"The Mayor" was particularly cheerful this evening and asking the others at his table  about their Christmas plans.  Dick told him that he and his wife are staying home this year as the family is scattered all over the country.  Ironically, the woman he thinks is his wife was sitting next to him and holding his hand.  They are not married but think they are.  She told "The Mayor" that she married Dick when she was 17 and expressed they had a great life.  She looked at Dick lovingly and longingly.  She told him she loved him more than he could know.  Strangely, I know she loved some husband, just not Dick. 

On one hand the disease is so cruel to put these two people together and on the other hand, it is beautiful that they think they have been married forever.  The funniest part is that "The Mayor" started flirting with her as if to make Dick jealous.  He was playing with them and laughing with a laughter I have never heard from him.  He was almost ecstatic that he could play a prank. Dick said that she was his and was completely confident that she would not stray to this stranger.  The whole scenario ended with "The Mayor" asking what they would be doing over the Christmas Holidays.  Dick picked up on the clue and suggested that she think of reindeer and Christmas Carols when she goes to bed tonight.  It is August but they are all in the Christmas spirit.

Debbie is very high functioning and stopped by our table to talk about the day and ask when they could go swimming again.  I was sitting within one foot of Gary who had no reaction to this whole scenario.  I asked if he enjoyed swimming and if he was looking forward to going again.  He grunted what appeared to be an affirmative grunt and continued sucking on the label.

After Debbie walked away, I looked at Gary.  I really looked deeply at Gary.  He has a fresh hair cut.  One could put a suit and tie on him and to the casual passerby, he could be a business man sitting at a restaurant at lunch.  But he is rapidly going away.  He had no reaction tonight to my touch or my words. 

I asked to be let out of the unit and found myself, numb, walking to the car.  As I drove home, the numbness continued.  Then, I realized that the numbness was morphing into sadness.  Heather and Xander were not in the mood to interact this evening.  I have to admit that it angered me.  People who live in the same house should have conversations beyond hello.  What is the point?

So, I sit here and type.  I struggle with which topics to highlight in my upcoming book.  I have considered writing it from Gary's standpoint, but then it would be fiction.  Who really knows what is happening for those who live inside the Dementia veil?  No one but them.   They cannot articulate those thoughts and feelings.  If we knew what they were thinking privately, then we would join them in the disease. No one wants that I assure you.

So, for now, I am allowing myself the loneliness and in the morning, I will shake it off.  I will return to the professional world where few know of my feelings or thoughts.  When those who do know ask how I do it, I respond "I get through it with the Grace of God."  Most just nod.  It is always awkward. 

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