The long Goodbye
I have been losing my husband for 11 years. It began with a diagnosis of neurodegenerative disease in 2000 and ended last November 2011 when he passed away. We had wonderful experiences over that time - especially for the first five years as we lived many of our dreams...but by the end he was bedridden and unable to talk. It has been a long long series of goodbyes as he inexorably lost all that made him him. This is a brutal way to die and a brutal way for a relationship to end. Numerically we were married for 43 years...but his last three years were in a nursing home as I was unable to care for him...and my role for several years before that was of carer rather than wife. I have been shocked and surprised by the depth of my distress when he died. I thought i had become used to life alone, used to not having my partner with me...but the reality was that I visited him most days and fed him, stroked his arm, whispered to him, remembered the life we had and just spent time with him...and now I can not do this any more. It has been three months and I still subconsciously plan my day with these visits in mind...and every day brings a painful stab when I recall that I can no longer spend time with him. I know my pain is not as sharp as those who lose their love suddenly and unexpectedly, and on a practical level I am adjusted to living alone...but I am suffering from dreams every night and he is in all my dreams. In some of those dreams he is young and strong and healthy and I wake up filled with joy, although this quickly turns to pain when reality strikes. Other dreams are full of my horror, anger and outrage at what has happened to him, and empathy for the agony and fear I know he suffered as he inexorably 'lost' himself. Anger and outrage for the loss of our relationship and our plans of retirement together, and for our beautiful grandchildren who will never know him and enjoy him and his games as our children enjoyed his games. I hope these dreams will stop as I am so tired.