Barb has emerged from dark months of misery into more pleasant days of aching discomfort. In October, a seizure driven crash to the floor left her with a compressed vertebra. For weeks she screamed in pain. Her marvelous doctor was in touch almost daily, working to ease the suffering. At last a vertebroplasty repaired the damage and the pain eased some. But it stalked her, nagging at her, never leaving her alone. The Alzheimer’s Disease blocks her from knowing her own story and keeps her from helping to heal. A curtain has fallen over a brain once filled with purpose and intent, and behind it the cells are daily entangled.

Each new day for Barbara is full of misery, loneliness and suffering. Peace and tranquility are long gone. Eric Hoffer says she’s old and nobody cares about her misery. We know that AD scares away friends.  Alzheimer’s and friends are incompatible. “Friendship doubles our joy and divides our grief,” say the Swedes.

It’s been said that misery is a communicable disease, that half of us could sit at the dinner table sobbing. My daily task is just to deal with things and not be overwhelmed with misery and anxiety. Many find respite from misery through humor. AD destroyed humor in Barbara. This is a challenge because humor is one way I pal around.

I grieve, grieve that the person that has meant so much to me for so long, is daily falling out of my grasp…and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Home is a place of sharing. For more than thirty years we’ve shared our neighborhood, the street where we live, the lives of our family, the things we own. That’s what I need, to share.

I caught a large mouse with an adhesive trap last night. But he got away. I couldn’t share this with Barbara. It was a big funny deal, but I can’t joke about it. I can’t get her advice on planning this small game hunt.  And today, when I checked on the sticky traps, I found the washcloths and towels she had thrown on top of them, bonding everything. I got so mad. She had no idea what I was mad about. I can’t even share anger.

In one of his articles in a local paper, a dear friend recently wrote of the sudden loss of his father forty years ago. A drunk driver smashed into his dad’s car and death yanked him away. His words capture the intrusion of grief and its refusal to withdraw. My friend’s words both haunt me and comfort me.

“How could this vital, formidable figure, whom we loved deeply and consistently, suddenly disappear, for no good reason, as if by mere chance? “

“There have been many good days since, many joys and great pleasures. But a certain distress remains, an absence not to be filled. And nothing since he vanished has ever been quite right.”