Sunday, November 6, 2011

Windows and Waterfalls

Tears have always been my nemesis.  Only babies cry.  Only girls cry.  Professional women who work can't let any men see them cry.  Certainly the stoic women who raised me, the entire community of them, were much too busy with real misery and issues to waste time crying.  I just knew it was a sign of weakness.  I have since been learning that it is perhaps the loss of control that frightens me about crying.  I do know that it is not a pretty sight to see and perhaps some of that is caused by legions of repressed and cry-able things stored up inside me.  When things get saved up that way and finally come bursting out, they are seldom attractive to watch or to witness.
I started crying--secretly of course, in the shower, in the car--when we first started looking for diagnoses for my old guy.  It was fright crying...I am familiar in my adulthood with that model.  Fright crying is really nothing more than nervous mental pacing.  I paid little attention to it.  Probably thought it was appropriate and tension releasing.
As we learned the diagnoses, I continued crying over what I thought was appropriate to mourn.  I wasn't actually mourning, of course, as my old best friend, 'denial', was hard at work keeping actual change and loss away from my emotional door.  These tears were more about the drama of it all.
I sort of gave up the crying in the middle of dealing with the issues of Altzheimer's and her wicked sister, Lewy Body Dementia.  I felt noble, I think, and 'unafraid' and 'capable' and able to deal with any and all of it.  "Bring it on!" I would shout in my head, raising my virtual fists at our fate.  And to my old guy, "I am not losing you down that rabbit hole!  Not on my watch!"
Crying sort of slipped back in as the valiant warrior behaviors began to exhaust me in the face of the relentless and increasing enemy strength.  This crying shamed me.  It was self centered and self pitying.  It was really all about me, of my loss of freedom and of choice.  It was also fatigue crying, not an uncommon adult model either.
A new crying has begun lately.  He doesn't want to hurt my feelings but every chance he gets, he checks with someone else about who I am.  He asks his children, his neighbors, his friends.  I can't even pretend to be stoic like my ancestor womenfolk in the face of this new pain.  I finally wailed so loud that he took me in his arms and tried clumsily to comfort me.  I kept apologizing and explaining that my head understood and that I knew he would never hurt me.  But I had to tell HIM, my own person, that it DID hurt me that the one absolute in my life was now not so sure.
My sister's husband left her and she looked me in the eye and shook her finger in my face and said, "It can happen to ANYBODY.  Do you hear me?  ANYBODY!"  I nodded sympathetically, but secretly knew that it would not, nor could not ever happen to me.  The one thing in this strange and ever changing world that has been constant for me is his love.  It has been the bedrock of my life.  I was prepared (well, as much as one can be) for eventually losing him to death, I suppose.  But I knew I would never lose him to another woman.  I guess I was right about that, but it turns out my sister might be right too.  That kind of loss can happen to anyone, and in fact, feels like it's happening to me now.  So these tears I am proud of.  I have real reasons to mourn.  These tears might be personal but they are not self centered.  I am absolutely losing him, and we both deserve to mourn openly.
As he continued to comfort me on the couch and search for things to say that would make me feel better, he shared this, "You know, just the other night, I was going to ask you."  "Ask me what?" I gulped out between sobs.  "You know, ask you to marry me."