Every Now and Then

As soon as it came, it was gone.

by Larry Kinard

“I’m pitiful,” Marty stated. She looked straight at me from her wheelchair. We had just moved to the living room from the kitchen, and she was waiting for Erica to transfer her to her recliner.  She kept looking at me and asked—actually it was more of a statement—“Don’t you think I’m pitiful?”

I looked back at her and said simply, “Absolutely not. What makes you pitiful?”

“I can’t get out of this chair.”

I’ve heard it a couple of times since she broke her right arm. She has felt utterly helpless, and if she gives voice to it, she really feels it. Every now and then the reality of our world settles in on Marty. Every now and then I see the reality of our new normal hit her between the eyes. I understand it because every now and then it happens to me.

Most days, I look at Marty and I see my wife. I see Marty’s eyes, I see Marty’s hair, I see Marty’s lips and her hands, I see all of the things that are my wife. I simply see the person who is the mother to our children and the person who knows me best. Most days I see a woman I chose to marry, a woman I chose to love, honor, and yes, obey; of course obey with Marty.

But, like Marty, every now and then I see the bruises on her arm from the blood thinners, the splint on her left arm to keep her hand from curling up on itself, or the brace on her left foot to stop the foot drop. Every now and then I see the wheel chair, the confusion in her eyes, the constant headaches, the strokes, the broken mind and body.

Every now and then I see what casual observers see: a woman who has been abused by a disease. What I never see, even every now and then, is pitiful. Do I feel bad for Marty? Do I feel sorrow for my loss? Do I feel pain for her loss? Do I feel anger? Yes, to all of that, but never pity. Marty doesn’t want it, nor would she stand for it.

I can only imagine her frustration, sorrow, and anger. At times it must be almost overwhelming. I think, every now and then, it manifests itself in, “I’m pitiful.” She can’t care for herself, do the simplest things for herself, do something as simple as sit in her recliner without someone taking her and moving her. I suspect I would feel pitiful too, and I suspect if the roles were reversed Marty would hate that for me, just as I hate it for her.

After she said, “I’m pitiful,” I got up from my chair, walked to her wheelchair, bent down to kiss her cheek and said, “What am I about to say to you?”

She looked up at me and said, “You’re going to say you love me.”

“Yes indeed, I love you very much.”

She raised her cheek for another kiss, kissed my cheek and said, “I love you too.” She paused. “A lot.”

The beauty of brain damage is pitiful never stays very long.  As quick as it came, it was gone; it really is just every now and then.

 

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