Since the day we were married, we’ve always been together, seldom more than a few feet apart, holding hands as we walked into the adventure of life.
I can’t begin to imagine being without her, but we’ve reached a point where she requires constant 24 hour care and I can no longer do this for her by myself.
As the months have drifted by and her dementia has deteriorated, I’ve struggled more and more to meet her increasing needs, particularly at night. Like many Alzheimer’s patients, night time is stressful for her. She is agitated and confused, can’t settle down to sleep, and gets up repeatedly. I arise with her, help her find and use the toilet, guide her back to bed when she attempts to leave to visit her mom, help her change clothes when she must go walking at 3 a.m., and hug her when she’s shaking with fear.
Then I guide her back to bed, tuck her in, rub her feet, kiss her, and eventually she falls asleep, until she wakes again and we repeat the cycle.
By morning light, I’m emotionally and physically exhausted. Strangely, she’s not the least bit tired, eager for our daily walk. And a new day begins. To my amazement, she greets all we encounter cheerfully, while I find myself dreaming of a good night’s sleep.
But the price for this dream scares me, for to make it happen, I must let her go, must release her to be cared for by others. This is a day I knew would come, but it’s a Christmas wish I really don’t want to happen.