one of the biggest victims of PTSD is my memory, especially short term. some days i wish i had a name tag to pin upside down on my bra so i could sneak a peek now and again to remember who the hell i am. if i don't, one day i am going to meet someone and say 'hi. i'm 36C.'
my husband of 26 years, whom i will call bill because of privacy issues and the fact that his name is, well, bill, is used to me using 'hon', 'sweetie', 'bubba' or somesuch because i can't remember his name either. i mean, i do remember it, it just can't make it on the journey from my brain and out of my mouth. our son, mick, and grandson, danny, are used to being called by the cats' names, their own names, each other's names and those of various vegetables.
we met in early july, were engaged in august and married in october. all in 1983. he is 21 years older than i am, but i was in my early 30s (tho he thought i was in my 20s when we first met, the pervert!) so i had been around the block enough times to know what i was doing.
he fell in love with me so hard and fast that it scared the hell out of me. for the first time in my life i was no one's daughter, sister, girlfriend...i was just 'me' and i loved it. it was an illuminating time, the notion that my existance didn't need to be justified by taking care of someone else! i had taken on the jester/caretaker roll in my family at a very young age. you know the one: if i just keep everyone laughing, if i keep dancing fast enough no one will notice how unhappy we all are and i can keep us all together. very tiring for a 5 year old.
i honestly didn't know if i wanted to be married, having just come out of a bad relationship. eventually, i weighed the thought of living with him versus that of living without him; living with him won.
it's been a long 26 years. we've been through better and worse. more worse it feels lately. much more poorer than richer. and a helluva lot more sickness than health.
bill is now 80yrs old. i am 59 (though how anyone who grew up with the best damn music in all history can ever be 59 still eludes me). the age difference has never been a factor in our relationship, but it did come more to the forefront after caitie died. it just took the wind out of bill. he spent 19 years wrapped around her little finger. he has always loved mick, our firstborn, but cait could turn him to putty with a flick of her eyelashes.
he suffers when he sees that he can't help me with my pain at losing her. he wants to 'fix' it so i don't hurt any more. he knows he can't, but he longs to see the young woman he married, the one who laughed with her eyes before her mouth, the one who was at her happiest when crooning love songs to her babies.
bill is the yin to my yang. he is a pouter and will worry a hurt like a terrier with a rat. i am a summer thunderstorm that makes the sky black in an instant and ends in a cloudburst that lets the sun come out before you can open your umbrella.
i come up with an idea, make all the plans, figure out the pros and cons of it, decide against it and move onto something else while he is just thinking of opening his mouth to say: 'ok, that might be fun.'
he is the one who wants to talk things out. i tend to pull inward and get quiet. he is happy to spend every minute with me. i need time to myself occasionally.
he is a good man. he supports my art and jewelry work. he adores me. i mean in a literal sense. he thinks i am beautiful and doesn't understand, 26 years later, how someone like me fell in love with him. (this is his delusional thinking, not mine.)
his hearing is shot from years of working in machine shops, shooting when he was a kid, and working with farm machinery without ear protection. arthritis has almost crippled him and he uses a cane now. we went thru 12 weeks of 5 days a week radiation therapy at a clinic 40 miles away for prostate cancer last summer. he is on his 4th pacemaker.
the divorce rate for couples who lose a child is terribly high. add to it the financial burden of 5 years of cancer on a retirees income, the loss of most of our possessions in the moving back to where we needed to be after cait's death and it should have been a recipe for marital disaster.
when the kids were little, we used to joke that we each were afraid if we divorced we'd get sole custody. now i tell bill that no matter how old i get i will always look pretty damn good next to him.
but the bottom line is he still loves me and i still love him. and, while it may take all night to do what we used to do all night, it's still worth the effort. and so are we.