The Long Goodbye
by Ingrid Ward
(Santa Maria, CA, USA)
Hello, my name is Ingrid. My "companion" of 30 years, Larry is slowly dying from a disease called Huntington's. It was passed down to him by his mother. It is slowly destroying his brain, and he is in the early stage #2. His short term memory is gone, and cognitive skills are slowly disappearing. Larry is the sweetest, most gentle soul you would ever want in your life. We have shared many great times, and even some challenging times in our 30 years together. We recently relocated to Santa Maria, CA, after living in Burbank, CA for 22 yrs.
Our lives have changed dramatically now that we are up here in SM. Larry is a VET and he was finally given his final diagnosis recently. However we have been dealing with this for some years. He has declined seriously since we moved up here in Nov. 2011.
The grief I feel right now is so tremendous. Its ripping my heart apart to watch him daily, struggle with this illness, and what its doing to us as a couple. I see the same body, but the person inside is a stranger now. I am his full time caregiver, and its becoming increasingly hard to manage his care. Not only that, but I am watching the love of my life disappear in increments. Its brutal, and gut-wrenching, I have so much grief and despair, and I can't share it with him. He doesn't remember our conversations, and has lost the ability to be a "mate" to me. So I am grieving the loss of my best friend, soulmate, etc. But its a slow death, and sometimes that seems harder than if its quick. Yes I have time to say goodbye, but the wound is so raw, and deep. Its like somebody everyday rubbing that wound with sandpaper. I still love him so very much, but the Larry I had is no longer there. Its hard for people to understand, and the process is agonizingly slow. Not that I want him gone, but I fight to accept him as he is now, I find myself wanting "my" Larry back. I can't have him, and that reality is ripping me to shreds.
Grief can come in many forms, and stages, yes. But the 7 stages of grief are still as real, even if they are here or not. I don't know if anyone out there can understand that, but the emotional tornado I am going thru right now is brutal, heartcrushing, and exhausting. If anyone can have an idea of what this is like, I would love to hear from you.
Thank you so much for this website, I am sure it helps others, and we are all here to help each other I think.