“All I want is peace, just some peace and quiet.” The reply came from our caregiver supreme, Erica. It was her birthday and I had asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday, “All I want is some peace.”
Linda, an acquaintance, a friend, wrote to me, “I just want some peace.” Her reply came when I told her we missed her, that we missed her nice, that we missed her humanity. “All I want is some peace.” It seems so simple, it seems so reasonable.
It is so simple, so reasonable, but so elusive.
I can remember waking up in the middle of the night with the stress of the previous work day banging like cymbals in my head. I know about the incessant worry of the coming day, the coming decisions, the inevitable conflicts, the tension of working in the business environment, the conflict of dealing with what you wanted to do and what you felt you had to do.
“Just give me some peace,” is what I begged for every day.
For four months I felt so much relief when my release came through from my corporate prison; I felt I could find that elusive feeling of peace and contentment. It was a brief respite as the impacts of the strokes rapidly closed in on both Marty and me.
After the strokes, when we first came home and for months after, when it was one infection, one illness, one hospitalization after another the same hunger was there, “just give me some peace, give me some relief from this worry, from this fear.”
Pre-stroke Marty dealt with the same ache, the same search for peace. She suffered from the stress, the strain, the constancy of being a mother, a daughter, a wife and a psychologist.
“I just want to breathe, I need some peace,” she would plead from time to time as the anxiety of everyday life, of being everything to everyone would mount.
In the day to day of our lives, in trying to do everything for all, in confronting all of life’s conflicts, all of the world’s conflicts we lose peace, we lose contentment, we lose the ability to sit and sigh and enjoy the small things and enjoy the simple quiet of a moment, of a lifetime.
Marty was not a passive, easy-going woman. She had strong ideas, strong opinions, and a lot of roiling emotions, both good and bad. Marty and I managed to find a way to argue over small, inane things, or we could fight over big things. So often we toiled in our marriage over nonsense that made life harder that took us farther away from the elusive peace we both sought.
In a way the strokes have brought peace to both of us. Once we got past the constant emergency room visits and the all day everyday concern over illness I found I could care for Marty and help her live with her disabilities. Helping her, discovering my tolerance for the unknown, and finding a heretofore unknown ability to help has brought me the peace I always wanted.
The strokes burned out a lot of the anger, the angst, the fear Marty had as a parent, a wife, a daughter, and an employee. That part of her that would not allow her to feel good about her skills, that part of her that constantly whispered to her that she wasn’t good enough was destroyed. She lost a lot of really good things in the process and I’m not sure she would willingly take the trade, but so many of the issues that created a war in her mind and her heart are now gone, subdued by the trauma to her brain. In many ways she has been left with the peace of mind and heart she so often sought.
That doesn’t mean Marty is content. She has never been content, she is not content today. When I ask if she feels peace and contentment now, she replies very simple, “I feel at peace, but I’m not content, I want to get better.” That really sums it up for Marty, she will never stop trying to be better, to heal, but she recognizes that she has found a peace of mind, a peace of heart.
It’s not perfect, that perfect peace that seems so desirable, it’s not even peaceful all day every day. But I no longer wake up in the middle of the night worrying about the coming day and Marty isn’t constantly fighting against herself. We are where we are, we are what we are. I hate how Marty and I got here, I hate everything that is lost, but I love that out of all that has happened, inner peace is a part of it.