That’s a question I have to answer every morning now, and often several times throughout the day as well. Some days it’s clear that I could probably tell her that her name was Barbara Eden and she was once a television star, and she’d believe that as easily as anything else.
Almost worse, I don’t really remember the Jacquelynn I met and fell in love with at all anymore. Sure, I have (damned few) photos, and a few things she wrote to me. But I don’t recall at all what it was like to talk to her; the lilt of her voice or the light in her eyes. Her relentless wit and even more strident integrity. I see all of these things in the abstract, knowing them intellectually, but holding no emotional content. How she felt in my arms, the smell of her arousal and the ring of her laughter may as well be words in a book written by and about a total stranger. I fear I may never recover those memories, the glories and the textures of a twenty-year love affair. I fear those concepts may never have an emotional context again.
Like I fear SO MUCH these days.
It is a paralyzing thing, this fear.
Like the fear of her going over the edge into a rant or tirade in the book store because she can’t find the magazine she’s apparently searching for. Of course, she can’t communicate to me just what kind of magazine it is; cooking/women’s interest/dogs/fashion, etc. Her vocabulary is down to probably less than a hundred or so words now, and finding the right one for any given situation is correspondingly difficult even without the trouble she has just speaking at all. Her voice has grown so faint that unless she’s just highly agitated (read: pissed off), then it’s all but impossible to hear her from more than a few inches away. Even if she begins a sentence in a semi-normal speaking tone, she’s bound to be but barely whispering within four or five words.
So here she is, insisting on a certain magazine but refusing to actually go to the magazine section to search for it, and me begging her to try to help me understand what she’s after so I can help while I’m also trying to prevent her asking the clerks in the store for help. Why not ask? Am I too much man to ask for help? No, actually, I’m not. What I am doing is attempting to protect her from further upset, because (kind though they may be, and most are), the clerks aren’t going to be able to understand what she’s after either, and she’s going to either
a) get angry at what she perceives as inconsiderate, unhelpful employees, or
b) (and far worse, IMO) have her inability to communicate clearly illustrated in a way that she can’t blame it on convenient scapegoat me.
Option B is exactly what happened, and she allowed me to lead her out to the car, weeping all the way.
We seem to have reached a point where we simply may not be able to communicate anymore. Most of the time it as if she were simply pounding on random keys of a typewriter and reading it. When she does use actual words, she mutters them subsonically and they come out in no coherent order, like they were routed through a blender set on puree.
For this and SO many more reasons, I have begun the process of filing for guardianship (how is it that being married to her doesn’t accomplish that, by the way?), as we waited too long to sign a Power Of Attorney. Even if she were willing now, she’s so far beyond competent that it would never stand up in court. This will be the first step in finding permanent placement for her, as soon as possible. I’ve also applied for Medicaid coverage to help pay for it, and I’m hoping the process won’t drag on for too long. She’ll hate it initially, but she’ll be safer and, eventually, happier. I’ll be getting more training for the dog and me, so he’ll be well enough behaved to visit her.
Yes, the idea of “putting her in a home” is repugnant to me, as it is to her. But my options have run out. I can no longer care for her safely at home, and Medicaid is never going to approve full-time home care for the schedule of a car salesperson. And returning to work selling cars is no longer simply an option; it is a necessity and an immediate one. If I’m not working somewhere in May, then the likelihood of being able to pay July’s bills is pretty much nonexistent.
And it feels like the ultimate betrayal. Yes, I KNOW is not an actual betrayal, but that isn’t how she’s likely to see it, now is it? She’ll get over it, but it’s going to be god damned hard to do nonetheless.