That’s not to say it’s all love and roses. It is extremely difficult to see the woman I love, going through one of the most difficult times of her life: when her brain checks out. With that, I have two songs that help me cope: The Afghan Whigs: The Slide Song and The National: About Today. Both are likely about break ups or more specifically drifting apart, neither of which we are going through, but the distance is real. When Saum checks out, when the headache gets bad and confusion and amnesia set in, we are distant. I reach for her, I hold her – I love her, but she’s just – gone!
This is the hardest thing about coping with this. Unlike the anger of the past, I am filled with love: love, longing and desire. I want to hold this woman of mine and through the sheer force of my will, bring her back to me.
She always comes back; sometimes it takes medication and a cold pack, a nap or sleep for the night. Often on these nights I collapse with just a few precious hours of sleep myself, before I have to return to my life, my work, house chores, taking care of things.
Many of our family and friends have reached out and offered help and support. It’s difficult to accept – not due to pride about my abilities or shame about the situation, but because one who has not seen their sister/daughter/aunt or friend in so long wants to understand, to reconnect, and to share their lives and all that has happened since this spring and the injury. The difficulty of allowing this help is that very reconnecting, conversation and activity aggravates the situation. That much brain activity makes the headaches get worse, the confusion set in, the amnesia and in the worst of times, motor skills fail – she just slips away from me.
So we are careful. We limit conversations, too much critical thinking, ideas and planning. We limit visits and phone calls, email, reading! I’m sorry, I know everyone just wants to help, but in this situation the best help is giving her space to heal.
When Saum is distant, it’s scary. For the most part, we’re making it past What’s my name? Her situation is improving, week by week, day by day. It’s slow, but steady progress. There is therapy of many different kinds, activities that exclude movies, TV, reading or even music. That’s right; there is no music in our lives (together) right now. It’s so central to whom we are, what we enjoy together. So for that, I offer two songs. The songs that help me cope and deal with this, songs that repeat blasting loudly while I drive down the road alone, songs in my head when I’m with her but am alone: two songs for Saumya.
My wife is the most beautiful, sexy person I know. Our marriage hasn’t always been steady, but though this I am. I am the one thing that remains when memories fail, I hold onto her as her beacon back. And she does come back. In a few more months this will be a memory. At least for me, gaps for her. In the meantime, I have my songs, and the woman I love.