My time is split from movies to dinners with old friends; no walk in the park due to the rain and drizzle, but I did walk along the Hudson one afternoon this week. From arranging meetings with distributors to writing new chapters for my second book, Strength and Resilience, and submitting them for review at The Writer’s Voice class, my days are full. I miss Bob less this year; I feel whole and appreciate the freedom of being responsible for no one but me, graciously provided by my son Steve and my Arizona support group friends who visit Bob regularly.
This process of letting go is not an easy one. On the one hand, it feels good to know that Bob is well taken care of at Arbor Rose Senior Care with the added help of the nurses and aides at East Valley Hospice and that my involvement with his care is more distant; a loving visitor, a supervisor of his treatment and financial concerns. On the other hand, my identity has been so connected to being his full time caregiver for so long it has taken me time to feel separate from him and from the caregiver role. This trip is slowly helping me to reassert myself as an individual, to make the small decisions of the day based on my own wants and needs, to choose how I spend my time and with whom, to care for myself and my own physical and emotional health. It is life-affirming. I feel blessed by good friends, valuable goals, physical stamina and time to be by myself as I make this next transition.
I miss the life we had; I miss the kind, independent, generous, gentle man he was, who always had a project that he was working on or a trip he was planning for us to take. I mourn the loving relationship we had because it is no longer what it once was. There is but a kernel left of the bond we forged; the way his eyes still light up when he sees me, the way he holds my hand or sits next to me, our hips and elbows touching. I fear that soon, even that recognition will be gone and, like my mother before him, when she had Alzheimer’s disease and forgot out relationship, I will once again become “that nice lady who comes to visit me.”