Knock Knock — Who’s there?

26 Mar

Taken from my January, 2011 journal:

Each day not only is a new day for the person with Alzheimer’s, it is also a new day for the partner.  As I go to bed at night, I wonder what the next day will bring and who will be awakening next to me in my bed.  Some mornings, I awake to the man I know and give a sigh or relief  and a prayer of thanks for his recognized and familiar traits.  Other mornings, I observe a dazed man who is next to me with his eyes staring at the ceiling as if to ask, Where am I? Who am I? What is going on in my world?  When I observe these moments of confusion, I reach out and gently touch him or put my arms around him.  He immediately recognizes my touch and responds with a gentle, I love you.  These moments are sweet and yet so difficult.  I know he’s changed and, on some level, he knows he’s changed.  Still, the human touch brings the emotions back for both of us and, for those few moments, we are communicating and we both feel safe.

On the days that the moods change and frustrations are high, a cruel monster steps out of the man I married. It can take a simple comment or expression from me that makes him yell, throw or kick objects at me.  He tells me that it is all my fault and that I have changed.   This is not the gentle man I married.  I don’t know him and don’t know how to communicate with him.  I try all responses and experience only more frustration.  Finally, I  ignore the outbursts and leave the room, hoping that this unfamiliar person doesn’t follow me.   It is during these moments that I want the stranger out of my home.

My lesson has been to focus on the good moments since I know they are fading fast for us as a couple.  I want to remember my loving husband and the good times we have had — not these challenging episodes with someone I only physically recognize but don’t know.  I must remain strong and, when given the opportunity in the early morning, reach out, hold him and hear him say, I love you.  I know, for that precious moment, we both feel safe and loved.  That’s what I want to remember.

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One Response to “Knock Knock — Who’s there?”

  1. Heather Schepman March 28, 2012 at 2:40 am #

    Beautiful entry. A couple of years ago my aunt was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and it shook me to the core. As a result of this journey I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer weekly with patients in a residential home. It is my favorite part of the week and has allowed me to love people for where they are in the moment, as you’ve described and as my aunt always loved me. I feel honored to know all of these extraordinary residents. My experience led to my blog as well, as I am writing a memoir to celebrate her impact and life. I am looking foward to reading more on your journey and wish you both peace. Heather Schepman

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