Saturday, April 6, 2013

A moment of truth. Beware. This may be too honest for you.

Sometimes knowing Bill is in a nursing home and I am out here in the world fills me with guilt and a sad affect. It can feel unbearable. I'm not sure if it is feeling guilty or feeling like I need to protect him. I've always done that. I've always been the fixer and I have always viewed marriage as a sacred vow to my Grandma Keller. She sat me down many times to tell me how special I was and to talk to me about picking my future husband. Choose a good man because forever is a long, long time was the message I heard from all my close family members. And I wanted that more than anything. We were a family of belly-wrenching laughter, of guitar sessions in the bedrooms, of entire groups of family singing around the piano. We were the Brady Bunch, the Partridge Family, and the Scooby Doo kids all in one. Thank God it was that way. Thank God. I would live happily ever after or die trying. I nearly have succeeded in the latter more than once, I am sorry to say. 

I realize now how difficult it must have been for Bill. I was all about family and he had very little to base his actions on. He had no siblings, he had lost his mom to cancer when he was in his senior year, ironically the same age Jack is now. I came with parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, a brother and his wife, and five nephews and nieces. He was a loner, estranged from his father since the painful death of his mama. When I look back, I think he actually began to change the moment we said "I do." I went from being his lover and adventurist to being the wife and one more responsibility in his never satisfied life. Bill always ached for more. It was medals in the service, recognition and a silver star award, education, a good job, more education, a better job, the raise, the promotion, the new shiny car, more education, a new career, more education.... Still we laughed, loved, and focused on our future. Still, there was always this aching need for Bill.... 

Our marriage wasn't a bad marriage. It was merely crowded, I believe is how Princess Diana put it when referring to Camilla. He had a lover for many years. Many years.  I don't know if there was anyone else before I had cancer, and I can honestly say our marriage ended, if somewhat briefly, right after our two year battle with chemo and radiation. It was an event that would have taken a champion boxer down in two rounds. He left after the doctors determined me in remission. He was gone for ten days. He came home and I took him back with open arms, so grateful for another chance. We healed; well, mostly healed, and we had Jack two years later. 

They met when our son was four, and were a couple until three years ago. I fought and actually left on four occasions. I loved Bill, and was easily swayed to try again, that things were over, and so forth. After so many years I guess I became numb to it. I confronted it when the evidence was blatant, knowing in my heart it would never be over. Still, I stuck to my vows, wearing them now like a ball and chain. Ahhh, hindsight.  I stuck with it, for better and for worse. Til Death Do You Part...I've heard it said that we can be our worst enemies. We, in essence as human beings make our own traps. My trap was I was being one of those girls that believed in happily ever after. 

I stuck with it and stuck with it until it was too late. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and now I am stuck in a sense. In another sense I am free. I am free of the  past couple of years and the domestic violence we experienced in our home. He has no memory that he divorced me to stay out of the nursing home. It has taken me over a year since Bill entered the nursing home, but I honestly feel I am healing from all of this past. I have been able to face and balance a hate and near bitterness with a peace that this part of my life is over. 

I have reached a level of forgiveness for Bill. It's helped me with my grief and in helping me be a better person. I can now look at the 15 year relationship with his mistress from a distance. I realize I had the power to stop all the pain many years ago. I just couldn't. I wanted my happily ever after and I loved my husband. 

This past has made my healing process both difficult and easier. I look at my husband today and almost forget all of the negative things we endured. He is fragile and sad and lonely. I sometimes feel an undying need to be at his side, to protect and heal as I have always done. 

Lately, Bill has forgotten it was me he was talking to many times. He started reminiscing about his times spent with Diana, talking about things they have done together, feelings unresolved, and. He asked me once if I "thought that was why Lyn put (me) in here (nursing home). It had almost killed her."  It did indeed. 

I decided to contact his lover about a month ago. It was time for me to put the past behind me, to relinquish control and the attempt to protect my own heart, and to allow him to resolve any lose ends or unresolved feelings in their life together. So I emailed, telling her where he is and why he dropped out of her life so suddenly. I knew they loved each other deeply to remain together after all these years. For the first time, it did not matter any more to me. It was behind me. 

And she did visit him, shortly after that. Staff said he didn't appear to have any acknowledgement or seem to remember her. He told them he thought she might have been an army buddy? Of course words are greatly jumbled when he speaks. I feel at peace because I gave him and her the opportunity to close any lose ends the may have in their relationship. I did it because I am free now and they can't hurt me any more. I'm by far not a hero. .... it seemed the humane thing to do. And I am free. Free to continue to love, to live, to look back without sadness. My freedom is not in terms of an ugly, angry divorce but in being healed. My heart sings again.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Visit 4/2/12

 It's only been an hour since I called him but he's forgotten and all ready eating his lunch. The nursing home rushes to accommodate my change in plans. Bill looks at me, slow to react as if he were drifting out to sea all alone on a small vessel. His eyes are distant, cold, not recognizing me.

We eat lunch together and then move on to his room- room 405.  We start the video for memories. We talk about the weekend and the 4-wheeler ride I took him on over the weekend. It was quite the scene. My family sat back and laughed  because Bill was hell fire certain he was going to ride that bike by himself. Jack and I looked in horror and disbelief. We had gotten him on the bike. Would we ever get him off? Jack tried to squeeze in the front, but Bill held his grip on the handle bars firmly, chanting, "oh, no, Bill wants to ride. Bill wants to ride." I finally squeezed up front, and scootched his little ass back to the edge of the seat. I held his hands, and said, "You better hold on." I took off on the four wheeler, killing the engine twice. Bill did his best to say his hail Mary's and help me Jesus's. I revved that puppy up and off we went. I could hear Bill scream, "help me, help me..." then break out in thunderous laughter and then he whispers, thank you. This is nice."

I stay as long as I can, but the time to work is closing in. We talk about our next outing, as I try to offer him hope that I will return. I question am I hurting him or helping him? It feels harsh and heavy to leave, to go forward with freedom and a whole mind and a whole body. I know at home his determination to be free, to drive a vehicle, to come and go as he pleases is not safe for him or for us, as frustration in Bill can be violent and difficult to control. It is difficult to ignore the pain he is going through.