The Emptiness At The Top Of The Stairs

Bedtime. I HATE this.

I’d normally have been asleep at least an hour ago, but I’ve been putting it off much longer than I should. It is just so difficult to even think about going up there without her.

You know, although we had lived together for fifteen years at that point, it wasn’t until Jacquelynn got really ill and became afraid to sleep alone (afraid to awaken alone, more accurately) that we finally began sharing a room. We had kept very different schedules with me rising at 4 a.m. to get in as much artwork as possible prior to leaving for work, then trying very hard to sleep in a bit on days off. So it seems odd to me that after only a couple of years of actually sleeping together, the prospect of coming upstairs to go to bed when she’s not here fills me with dread. Even when she’s been hospitalized for a few days, I’ve always just slept downstairs in the recliner, but there’s no real rest to be had there. I need a bed, and this is the only mattress less than 20 years old in the house.

But it’s also haunted. Haunted with emptiness. There’s a dog lying there now, and unlike just a week ago, he won’t get up and move to several spots on the floor before reclaiming his bed spot then jumping down to get a drink only to fall asleep on the laundry pile. No, he’ll sleep in the spot that smells like Jacquelynn, shifting his position only once or twice all night. And I’ll wake up suddenly half-a-dozen times overnight, thinking I hear her voice or I’ve felt her get up. There is a hole in the bed now; a hole in the room. A hole in our lives.

Her permanent status will hopefully get sorted this week. While she’s been in the hospital these last 8 days, I’ve been through an incredible roller-coaster ride with insurance cancelations and reimbursements, new policies and hospital savings programs. Medicaid approval went from maybe to all-but-assured to not-gonna-happen and full circle to a solid probably, all while I toured available memory care facilities. Those also caused their own terrifying ups-and-downs with options ranging from Stephen King-esque to home-towny and maybe-a-little-too-informal. But a selection was made, and if it all works out and that’s where she goes for now (I can always move her if either of us are unhappy with the choice. I’ll certainly keep looking and if I see something better and closer to home, I’ll get her on a waiting list right away) when the doctors are confident that her kidney and bladder function are reliably normalized.

It’s not going to get any easier, transitioning her into a care facility. There will inevitably be a period of anger and feeling of betrayal, but I’m constantly reassured that it will fade, especially as her recall weakens. And I’ll eventually be able to be the Husband once more, rather than the Caregiver.

I must admit, that is a very hopeful idea, and just now, hope is a wonderful thing.

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