and I smiled

holding the year’s last rose in her hand
she disappeared
whisked away on the first day of winter
gone forever on a cold December day

my head said it was for the best
said I could not give the care she needed
said I had to let her go

my heart said

NO!

I made tea
cleaned up
pretended I was strong
wondered why I could not hear her near me
why I felt so empty and alone

and I cried
cried hugging all the memories
cried as I walked with her
danced with her
cried sitting with her on the seaside bench
our faces kissed by the morning breeze
cried hearing her sing out to passing children
cried as I touched her sleeping softness
cried every day through the longest winter of my life
cried far into sunnier seasons

this morning, when I opened my eyes
I thought of her once more

and I smiled

tio stib

You might also appreciate: You Will Always Be My Valentine; My Dementia Diary

 

Walking With My Lover’s Ghost

walk with me
I hear her softly plead
come
walk with me

and so I rise and go
take the hand that isn’t there
feel the joy in her smile
the smile only my heart can see
hear the memory of her gleeful calls
her waves to passing children
as she scampers to greet them

hugging close
faces glowing in the morning sun
a gentle breeze caresses us
sitting on our seaside bench

I kiss her tenderly
taste the love upon her lips
inhale the sweet scent of her soul
embrace the grace that made us one
blessed us

touching the emptiness beside me
tears slide down my cheeks

come
I plead
walk with me

and I rise again
move on

walking with my lover’s ghost

 

tio stib

You might also appreciate: You Will Always Be My Valentine; Life Journey Poems & Prose

 

My Dementia Diary 98 – Muddy Waters

swirling sadness surrounds my soul
muddy waters have drowned my heart

in time
the flood of tears will retreat
the clouds of sorrow melt away

in time
the waters will clear

in time
I will drink from the river of life

once more

tio stib

You might also appreciate: Her Smile; My Dementia Diary

My Dementia Diary 95 – Returnings

“Where’s your wife?”

The grocery clerks, the drug store help, coffee shop baristas, deli servers, librarians, they all ask the same question. When I return now, alone, to the places we frequented together, they all expect to see the blind guy and his ever cheerful wife. 

But she’s not there, so they ask,

“Where’s your wife?”

And I try to answer, tear up, reach out to hold her hand that isn’t there, start crying, because I’m asking the same question,

Where’s my wife?

tio stib

You might also appreciate: The Walk to Paradise Garden; My Dementia Diary

 

My Dementia Diary 93 – A Trail of Hearts

Sorting through her things, my fingers find a shape I know.

a paper heart

A message from a far off place

I love you!

and there are more

she has left me a trail of hearts

with each new discovery
I hold her close
press her memory to my chest

and cry

because paper hearts are not enough

tio stib

You might also enjoy: As Good As It Gets; My Dementia Diary

My Dementia Diary 73 – Sex, Fishing, and Other Goodbyes

Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone

Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi”

As I listened to Joni sing about paving paradise, I realized I’ve recently lost two big things in my life.

Sex and fishing.

Fishing used to be my soul food, what I craved when life went sideways, dreams were slipping away, or I just needed a break from the human race. My typical fishing trip was an impetuous decision to get out of town, followed by tossing rod, clothes, and snacks into the car and heading out. I had some trusted spots and a mental list of obscure places on the map that had possibilities. I was often several miles down the road before a clear direction became obvious. Location really didn’t matter much, I just wanted to be standing alone in a stream, feeling the sun’s warmth on my face, filling my nostrils with the invigorating air of wildness, casting a fly towards some trophy fish fantasy.

One of the many blessings of our marriage is that my wife found fishing intoxicating too. I remember her excited squeals when she caught her first trout and her delighted giggles as she released it and watched it dart away. I remember looking past her at the backdrop of golden aspen leaves dancing in an azure sky, on a glorious fall day. I remember thinking this is as good as it gets.

Blindness ended such impetuous outings. In time, I found a guide who took the pair of us down a favorite river in his drift boat. It felt great to be on the water again, but I can’t pretend it was anything like before. Still, we enjoyed floating through a quiet world on a beautiful day, trying to wake fish who didn’t want to play. The tranquility was shattered when dementia struck and my wife’s mind melted down. She had to get out of the boat. Words could not calm her and the guide rowed us to shore.

We haven’t been fishing since.

Then there’s sex. We’ve been wonderful, passionate lovers, always open, always eager to please each other. With us, it just happens, a kiss, a touch, a fond embrace and love unfolds. But, recently, I noticed that, in spite of these triggers, nothing else was happening. The woman who once loved to play sexually was now a child who just wanted to be cared for. Dementia had stolen another part of the woman I love and the life we shared together.

My blindness has put such losses in perspective. I’d never expected to lose my sight and the experience was devastating. But I survived and, with the help of friends, learned to explore and appreciate all those things in life that can’t be seen. I also learned that things we treasure can disappear in an instant.

Do I miss sex? Heck yes, and I also miss my wife’s killer guacamole. But these things are not coming back so I need to be grateful for what we do have. She still loves to kiss and hug and she’s very good at it. She still makes my day on our walks when she rushes up to coo and smile at every baby we meet. She still holds my hand as we sit on our favorite bench on the beach and share the feelings of living in a beautiful world.

And fishing? Another tough goodbye, but the fly fishing rod that sat on a shelf by the door for three years waiting in vain to be taken away on another impetuous adventure is now in the hands of my new son-in-law who has a a matching passion. I expect some marvelous stories will be coming my way soon.

In case you’re a Joni Mitchell fan, here’s a link to “Big Yellow Taxi.”

tio stib

You might also enjoy: This Child Who Once Was Woman, My Dementia Diary

 

My Dementia Diary 52 – Drowning in Sadness

Because my wife’s dementia is deteriorating slowly, there are times when I forget it is happening at all. then, she says something-

“Do you have a wife?”

We were making breakfast when this question came up. My heart froze.

“Do you have a wife” she asked again.

I hugged her close and whispered, “you are my wife. You will always be my wife.”

“Of course,” she answered, kissing my cheek.

I am drowning in sadness.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary 48 – Both Sides Now, My Dementia Diary

 

Hanging with Happiness

I used to hang with Happiness
he brought me many smiles
but then one day he disappeared
and left me lonely miles

I used to play with all his friends
Laughter, Joy, Surprise,
no end
but when he left that fateful day
I found they all had gone away

I used to hang with Happiness
he always sparked my mind
but then one day he disappeared
the day that I went blind

he took the world that I could see
including my identity
and left a void inside of me
a life I can no longer be

I miss those days of running free
of feeling wild immensity
now I linger long in bed
lost in wonders in my head

this the only place I see
the only world where I am free
the dreams deep inside of me
and sleep the door that sets me free

I wonder as the day dawns black
if he might someday come back
and with this hope I make my way
a chance that I might hear him say…

listen
I’ve brought my friends to play

tio stib
2015, 2017

You might also enjoy: Truth, A Child’s Smile