I reached down and gently touched her head, pushing my fingers into her thick salt and pepper colored hair. She stirred, just waking, looked at me through sleepy eyes and first said, “Scratch”, a command to scratch the back of her head. The rule is, you touch it you scratch it.
She then asked if we were going to church. I said no, I was going to the gym. She wanted to know why we weren’t going to church, I said, “Because it’s Wednesday.” She looked at me, woke just a little more and said, “Okay”.
It struck me at the time; the evolution of Marty, my evolution, the evolution of our life was almost complete. What had once been unthinkable, what had once been unbearable, what had once been a new “normal” was now just normal.
Ten years ago all of this was impossible, Marty lying in bed, unable to get out on her own, unable to care for herself alone, restricted in her communication and activity. Ten years ago it was unthinkable.
Ha….the unthinkable, the unbearable happens and you learn to bear it, you remake your life to accept it.
It’s a slow process. It takes years, not months, to accept, or at least it took me years. It really is a journey, a journey to normal.
I have mulled acceptance a lot these last months. I have worried about the difference between surrender and acceptance, I have thought about what normal really is and if it exists (it does), I have thought about our journey and I have concluded we are still traveling but our old life has become a distant history.
I have accepted and when I think of Marty I think of my Marty of today.
Thoughts of what used to be; thoughts of what could have been have eroded. I can remember Marty before the strokes but more and more I only see what she is today, not what she was yesterday.
I don’t know if that’s good or bad, I don’t think good or bad matters or enters into the equation. It just is…….and while it is trite, overused and used as an excuse too much….”it is what it is.”
I asked Marty on our drive to the lake the other day if she had gotten used to her post stroke life, if it had become normal to her and she said, after thinking, and after pausing to swallow her DC, “Yes.” Succinct and to the point is the way she is today, that was not the old normal.
The old normal Marty would have taken that question and expanded it into every facet of her life. She would have examined the implications and explained them to me in detail. She would have understood how she really felt and why and after about 30 minutes of listening, I would have understood it too.
Today we have evolved to a simple “Yes.”
I will take “Yes”; I will take the quiet, introspective, agreeable, good patient that Marty is today. “Yes”, there are times I mourn the loss she has experienced, the loss we have experienced, but I think I am finally moving past feeling the pain of what was so intensely. I think I am slowly pushing what "used to be" to the historical archives of my brain and more and more I am, we are, accepting and living with what we have.