Friday, September 10, 2010

Would You Have a Stroke?

I wake up most mornings, check on Marty, eat a bit of breakfast and then hit the treadmill. As much as I walk you would think I would be thin as a rail, it’s so sad, not even close, but I continue to walk. As part of the walking ritual I watch DVDs from series television shows I have missed over the years. It’s a great way to watch some pretty good shows like The Wire, Rome, Deadwood, MI-5, X-Files and on and on and on. I’ve walked and watched a lot over the last four years.

Most recently I’ve been watching a show called Six Feet Under. It’s kind of a downer really, in a funny sort of way, normal people living normal lives in a funeral home. On a recent episode one of the characters was looking at their somewhat screwed up life retrospectively and mused that they wouldn’t really change anything, because if you changed one thing it would change everything and they didn’t want to change everything.

It got my head to buzzing just a little so naturally I had to bring Marty in and get her head buzzing with me. I still love to have philosophical discussions with Marty. The conversations are more stilted and I have to lead and guide them and be more patient than is sometimes comfortable for me, but I like talking with Marty a lot.

Marty really mulls over some of my more esoteric questions and she almost always has a thought or an opinion, you simply have to wait for the words to take the long way around from her brain to her mouth; the shortcut that used to plague her and cause spontaneous verbal assaults is no longer open for her, the strokes closed the road.

I’ve never been one of those to say I would change nothing about the way I have lived my life. I’m sorry to say I have regrets, there are things I would do differently, hopefully better. But, the question is, would you make those changes if you knew it would change other parts of your life you really liked, would you then fix the regret? Would you choose to repair some damage you have done if you knew for a fact you would lose things you have gained?

I asked darling Marty, “You know how much you are loved?”

She says, “A lot.”

“You know,” I continued, “It’s the only up-side to the strokes, you have been able to see how much people care for you, right?”


This has always been a big deal for Marty. So often in life she struggled with feeling lovable, feeling loved. She always knew how smart she was, she knew she could be funny and even captivating with her stories, she saw the trappings of her success, she just never felt any real assurance of the clearly delineated self-sacrificing love she now sees and recognizes every day.

Now the real question, I asked Marty, “Is it worth it, is knowing you are loved, valued and cherished so much by your family worth what you have given up? Would you change anything?”

I waited, I watched, I fidgeted. I asked her, “Are you thinking, or do you need me to ask the question again?”

“Thinking,” she says.

I really assumed there would be no question or hesitation on her part. I assumed she would say she would rather have never had the strokes. I assumed she would choose a different path for herself and choose her normal cognition and health over the assurance of love.

She never really answered. She kind of mulled, waffled, answered both ways and gave every indication she wasn’t going to give a straight answer. I know she was conflicted, I know how important her mind was to her and how much she truly misses the ability to communicate smartly and quickly. I also know how much it means to her to see our love for her played out in so many different ways.

I recognized it was time to move away from our postulating and on to our music or a game of Strike a Match. Marty instinctively knows the best way to answer a theoretical question, a question that changes nothing, is sometimes you just don’t answer it.

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