Friday, March 10, 2017

Tears in the Night

On my last visit to see Gary, the Care Manager told me that he was found in the middle of the night crying profusely.  This is highly unusual in that he has shown literally no emotion for months. 

The caregivers checked his diaper, inquired about pain and could find no physical reason for the tears.  Since he cannot communicate, they simply pulled up two chairs and sat with him and held his hand.  How sweet.  How sad.

The impression that I receive from this event is that Gary is still "in there" and feeling something.  Was it loneliness?  Was it pity for himself?  Was he scared?  Was he aware of his terminal situation?  Was he angry?  We will never know.

For all blog readers, it is apparent that I have had a shift in how I am approaching dealing with Gary's situation.  I have stepped away from visiting daily and spending great amounts of time at the Memory Care Center.  I was under the impression that I am grieving-as-I-go and dealing very well with the situation.  I have stated on many occasions that I feel numb. 

In one day this week, three different sources who care deeply for me shared that they feel I am NOT dealing honestly with my situation and that I am about to hit a brick wall because I do not have control and that I falsely think I do.

Since three people said the same thing, it made me listen.  I do know that my husband is terminal and that chances are excellent within a few months, I will be a widow.  I get it....I just don't know what the proper way to deal with it looks like. 

At lunch today, I was watching a family assisting their elderly father to their car.  It was all three people could do to move this man without injury them or him. It brought back memories of doing the same with Gary and pretending that life could be normal.  Life was not normal and I am grateful that I put him in  24 hour care when I did.  I am convinced it extended his life span.  I feel so sorry for caregivers who do not have the resources I have.  Thank you, Lord.

Today, while driving, the social worker from Hospice called to check on me.  The conversation included a recap of both my father and sister dying in the last month; telling her that I am going to Mexico for a week by myself; Discussing pre-death cremation arrangements;  celebration of life plans and the anticipated amount of time Gary will live.  I told her that I don't think he is going to die while I am gone unless something like choking or a heart attack occurs.  I assured her that I will have cell service and will respond 24/7 if they call.

When I think back on the reality of the conversation, I realized how heavy it was and how unfair it was for me to have had this conversation in front of someone else who was riding with me.  I can handle the denseness of the situation but not everyone else can.

Truth is....CAN I handle the situation?  While I was typing this blog, the Memory Care number came up on my phone.  Anytime I see "SUNRISE" on my caller I.D., my heart skips a beat.  Is this "the call"?  No, they simply need to tell me he needs more shampoo, body wash, toothpaste and dental floss.  Whew!  The reality of that heart beat skip was a small wake up call for me.  I DO still feel fear.  I DO still feel anticipation and anger.  I'm still here, too and I am in self-preservation mode. I DO still care.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Scheduling Grief

"Hi honey, I've been gone for a while.  Did you miss me?" 

After being gone for two weeks to attend to two deaths in my home state of Virginia, it was weird walking into Gary's memory center and asking this question.  He had no reaction.  He never missed me.

My father and sister died during my trip to the East Coast.  I have to admit that I did not check on Gary the entire time because I knew the Angels were taking care of him in Memory Care and that if something went wrong, they would call me.

I quietly told Gary that my father and sister had died and that was the reason for my absence.  No reaction.  I firmly understand that he did not know me.  I had no reaction either.

So, I clipped his finger nails, trimmed his beard and moustache, as I know the old Gary would expect that....and I left.  I was there for all of 20 minutes.  How cold it felt to walk out of there after being gone for two weeks.  However, at this point, I am numb and trying desperately to feel.  I had no reaction to the deaths of my family members.  The last few years of this Dementia hell have left me grasping to feel....anything.  However, the protection wall is up and I am not allowing anything in right now. 

I am going on vacation to Mexico in late March....perhaps I will feel something then.  In fact, I have scheduled my grief for then.