As we lay together in bed this morning, our bodies giving each other comfort by their touch, their smell, the old safety of a good enclosing hug — we have always been each others’ haven and the memory is in the touch — (I weep as I write, it is so sweet and so beloved) as we lay abed this morning, my heart – or my courage – softened, and I thought as I so often do, how wonderful to have him next me, my best friend and biggest fan, the only person in the world now who I know will love me no matter what.
I think, oh maybe I can keep him home, get more nurses, maybe I could do that until the end, with enough help.
And then he speaks: of strange things coming down the roof tops, and of some boy who just ran through the room. He says, I think it could maybe be my mother and father are dead. He the atheist says, I don’t know what I did to be punished like this… and I clinch my teeth and say “You are a good man. God is not angry at you.”
He asks, Your brain is OK isn’t it, babe? It doesn’t hurt?
And then a bunch of repetitious gobbledygook, of the kind we have about 200 times a day (not exaggerating) — Where are we, When can we go home, Where is Delores? (That one is super freaky because the existential answer is, Who knows?) What can we do? Where is the car? — and I know, with a cold chill in my heart which I don’t know if I can survive, it makes no sense to sacrifice myself too.
I pack his bag for another week of Respite at the Lodge, that blessed place where I trust the staff to look after him.
He is not happy about going, and breaks my heart again and again as he says how much he loves me and wants to be with me. He adamently does not remember ever being there before (3 weeks ago) and pities me for my craziness. I take ownership of not knowing anything.
Later this day, I brief the nurses on how he has changed since the last Respite: more fear and anxiety (I’m afraid, he said, staring at his porridge, I can’t eat this… and he didn’t) – more little children running through the room, and sometimes strange men, more weird poisons coming from the clouds, more need for explanations on how to use the toilet (makes sense really – he grew up in the country with no plumbing).
The nurse agrees she has noticed he is more anxious, aggravated by a howler or two on the ward, and says they will make sure he gets some extra TLC. I say how much I am hoping he will land softly in their care when his turn comes up on The List, and she says yes we hope so, but there is no control over placements. “He is such a sweet man,” she says, leaving me relieved, but with a heart cracking again, after so many fractures.