"I'm pitiful", Marty stated, "I'm pitiful," she repeated, looking straight at me as she sat in her wheelchair. We had just moved to the living room from the kitchen and she was waiting for Erica to transfer her to her recliner. She kept looking at me and asked, actually it was more of a statement, “don't you think I'm pitiful?"
I looked back at her and said very simply, "No, absolutely not. What makes you pitiful?"
"I can't get out of this chair" she said.
I've heard it a couple of times since she broke her right arm, she has felt pitiful, she has felt completely and utterly helpless. It really blows when she says it. It sucks even more because if she says it, if she gives voice to it, she really feels it. Every now and then the reality of our world settles in on Marty. Every now and then I see the reality of our new normal hit her between the eyes. I understand it because; every now and then it happens to me.
Most days, most times I look at Marty and I see my wife. I see Marty's eyes, I see Marty's hair, I see Marty's lips and her hands, I see all of the things that are my wife. I simply see the person who is the mother to our children and the person who knows me best. Most days I see a woman I chose to marry, a woman I chose to love, honor, and yes, obey, of course obey with Marty.
But, like Marty, every now and then I see the bruises on her arm from the blood thinners, I see the splint on her left arm to keep her hand from curling up on itself, or I see the brace on her left foot to stop the foot drop. Every now and then I see the wheel chair, I see the confusion in her eyes, I see the constant headaches, I see the strokes, I see and feel the broken mind and body. Every now and then I see what casual observers see, I see a woman who has been abused by a god awful disease.
What I never see, even every now and then, is pitiful. Do I feel bad for Marty, do I feel sorrow for my loss, do I feel pain for her loss, do I feel anger? Yes to all of that, but never pity. She doesn't want it, she wouldn't stand for it and pity would just make her feel worse.
I can only imagine her sense of frustration, her sorrow, and her anger. At times it must be almost overwhelming. I think, every now and then, it manifests itself in, "I'm pitiful." She can't care for herself, she can't do the simplest things for herself, she can't do something as easy, as day-to-day as sit in her recliner without someone taking her and moving her. I suspect I would feel pitiful too, and I suspect if the roles were reversed Marty would hate that for me, just as I hate it for her.
After she said it I got up from my chair, walked to her wheelchair, bent down to kiss her cheek and said, "What am I about to say to you?"
She looked up at me and said, "You’re going to say you love me."
"Yes indeed, I love you very much."
She raised her cheek for another kiss, kissed my cheek and said, "I love you too," she paused, "a lot."
The beauty of brain damage is pitiful never stays very long. As quick as it came, it was gone; it really is just every now and then.