It's a dance, really. We circle around together but not quite together.
I am hypervigilent, but trying not to hover.
He sits at the computer, printing out and organizing stuff for the tax man. He is on top of all the business stuff, just as he always has been. He drives short distances. He shops. He does his little projects around the house.
It all feels so normal and I sometimes find myself feeling as if we dodged a bullet, as if we're good, it's all going to be okay.
But then, randomly, there are those moments that knock me sideways. The frustration because he can't find the 'L' key on the computer. Or he's forgotten how to spell his son's name. Or he can't remember which two pills he takes in the morning and which two pills that he takes at night. He's forgotten how to use his cell phone. Maybe, suddenly, he's stuttering and he looks as surprised to hear himself as I am. His hand starts tapping against something. "It sounds like a woodpecker," he says, trying to make a joke of it.
I know for a fact that a million other people would give anything to be in my shoes as they struggle to care for someone who's suffered a major stroke with both debilitating mental and physical changes.
Tonight, he scared me. Just a little thing, but right away, I begin talking. I want him to talk back. Is his speech slurred? I study his hands, his feet, his face, and I try not to betray any sign that I'm assessing him as I assess him.
He's a quiet man. He's always been a quiet man. He looks at me as I talk. If he answers, it's just a word or two, but that's how he has always been.
Finally I burst into tears. Sorrow? Frustration? Just pent up fear? I don't even know but once I started I couldn't stop.
He didn't know what to do, so he's gone on to bed. He was tired. Probably the best thing for him. I imagine this is a scary time for him too.
I sit here in the dark in front of a lit screen and I feel ashamed at my own weakness, but I wonder if he will ever tell me that he loves me again.