November 14, 2014 | My Jottings
I was driving recently and an old Amy Grant song came on. It was one I’ve always loved by her, and the melancholy of it swept over me and tears overflowed these dry eyes of mine and streamed down my face as I sang along. I thought of Michael as I sang and cried, and realized that lately I’ve been having difficulty remembering how he used to be, when he was vibrant and healthy.
I have flashes of memories but they seem more like snapshots in my mind, rather than moving memories. Michael climbing a ladder to install siding three stories up, whistling his joy and so surefooted. Michael coming in the back door after a long, dirty day at work, putting his woolen plaid shirt on the back of a kitchen chair and giving me a kiss while I stirred at the stove. Michael’s deep voice singing praises to the Lord next to me on Sunday mornings. His eyes, huge and kind, fixed on me when we sat across a table together at a restaurant. Walking through the woods with him and the way he knew the names of so many plants and trees. Hiking to Carlton Peak in the fall and how he bent down to pick up a globular pod of some sort at the side of the trail, cut it open effortlessly with his Swiss army knife, and showed me the labyrinth of chambers inside, each filled with a tiny worm. Michael raving about my cooking, no matter how rave-worthy it was. The way he loved all animals, especially birds and dogs. The way it felt when I’d come into the kitchen at night after all the girls had gone to bed and see him sitting at the table with his Bible open. Michael driving. Michael laughing. Michael reassuring me. Michael kissing my cheek while we waited in the checkout line at the grocery store. Michael reading the Bible out loud during our morning devotions. Michael being able to fix anything broken in the house. Michael and I having a conversation together, me understanding him and he understanding me. Michael, full of life and spirit.
I want to write about these things because I don’t want to forget. It’s alarming to me how foggy some of my memories have become. Maybe I will have memory issues someday, who knows? I want to take these memories I have and turn them over in my mind like a jeweler inspects a fine gem, to see the perfections and the flaws beneath the facets, and let the wonder and brilliance of them blind me for a little while.
So I will share this song with you all today, because in a way that’s what listening to it does for me. It stops me right where I am and helps me reflect on the thirty three years I’ve known and loved (and fought with and despaired with and prayed with and exulted with) this man. If you have the time, I found a video with the lyrics, so if you’re not familiar with the song you can see why it touches me so deeply.
I feel like Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia open the door to a very long goodbye, but I don’t want to say goodbye. Michael is still very much alive because his heart and lungs and vital systems are in good shape. But we have said goodbye to so many things, and are saying farewell to things even now.
Michael and I have lived apart for 134 days now. I have a little peace when I spend my two days a week with him and see the care and love and food and activities he is experiencing. But when I come home and I get my work done here, and the house is quiet and I wander around missing him, peace is elusive. I wonder how one weighs and sorts out the benefits of outstanding physical care and safety against the aching loneliness and emotional yearnings both of us have from this whole journey. I still can’t figure it out.