Friday, August 26, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal

There is no comfort in resignation. To achieve that state, you have to give up a dream, a belief that things will get better than they are. It requires the most brutal honesty with yourself and strips away illusions. If I believe that it will be easier for Flip and because I love him, for me, too, when he loses all awareness of his situation, I am relinquishing forever the good stories I might tell myself about a cure for his disease which will completely restore him to his former self. And while I know that brain cells cannot regenerate themselves, I am unable to completely write off that life raft of a thought and wish him oblivion. Oblivion is too final and irrevocable. I cannot sanction it.

Flip does not go gentle into that good night. I admire his fighting spirit. I applaud that something in him is trying bravely and desperately to hold the fort, against all odds. I love that he values life enough to struggle so against a disease that is sweeping him away from his moorings like a monster riptide. I just want things to be the way they were.

He was discharged from the hospital today and transported to a nursing home in Oakland. I think he's relieved to be out of the hospital, but not impressed with his new surroundings. He has a roommate with only one leg and a loud TV. His attendant until 11:00 pm is a pleasant Ethiopian man named Tesfu, who brought him "dinner," egg salad on white bread, noodle soup and applesauce because he missed the regular dinner hour at 4:45. I hope the real meals are better. I am quite a good home cook, and it makes me sad that he will never again taste any of the meals I make which he enjoyed so much. It seems wrong to make them just for me, not because I'm unworthy but because cooking and baking are both forms of artistic expression and demonstrations of my love. Cooking for oneself seems like masturbation with food.

The first thing I was asked was whether they should let him die naturally if he got sick. No euphemisms were used. I know they need to know, but I was barely in the door. I said that it would depend on the circumstances, the quality of life he'd be leaving, and that he should not be in pain. Also, I did not wish to make such an important decision when I was utterly exhausted. I was given a sheet of paper, pink, which I promised to fill out and bring back. I haven't looked at it yet.

The neighborhood, which is reputedly dangerous, is just a barrio and seems perfectly safe in daylight. At night, many places are unsafe. More terrifying was the ride home, driving due west into the setting sun which was below the visor on my windshield. I missed a turn because I was literally blinded on a murderous freeway with everyone speeding around me, but managed to find the Bay Bridge which was so fogged in that I had to navigate by the tail lights of the car ahead of me. And tomorrow I get to do it all over again.

The facility in San Francisco has apparently changed its mind about accepting Flip. He has been branded as trouble because of the incidents of aggressiveness, even though they were caused by a drug he was given to control him. It's going to be a long, hard road. The turbaned tollbooth man is gone. (I hope it wasn't something I said.) Perhaps I only dreamed him. Why not? If life is a dream, everything we see is our own invention. I think it matters less if something is real than what we do with that perceived reality. Giving up our hopes and dreams diminishes us, and maybe with a little practice I could even rebuild a husband.


the walking man said...

As you are loving so shall you find his love returned in new ways. Cook, bake, feed your husband. You will both feel better for it.

There is new found peace in this writing Susan. Let that hope and eternal thing spring!

TechnoBabe said...

If you cook, would it be acceptable to take some to Flip? When would have time to cook? I so understand that when you are used to cooking for someone you love and it is appreciated and part of the loving relationship, and then you are cooking for one, it does not taste the same. The cooking is not fun or exhilarating. But with your determination there must be a way for you to keep some things normal. Hugs to you.

English Rider said...

Even if you cannot summon the energy to cook, I expect that sharing strawberries or other favorites with Flip may be good for body and soul. There must be moments still that can be enjoyed. My Dad ate ice cream and then forgot and asked for more. Who cares that he was diabetic, those small moments made him happy.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I tell him often that I love him so it will buffet him against the storms, both external and internal.


I'm not really cooking these days. Even my morning coffee doesn't taste the same. I think it was the shared ritual I loved more than the beverage.


I am planning to run by the Sunday farmers' market tomorrow to buy him strawberries, grapes and whatever else he might like. And I also must go to our favorite cupcake store one day soon - I haven't been shopping or eating much for a month or two, but might as well start with goodies. Besides, unlike your father, neither of us is diabetic.

Anonymous said...

I am thankful that you are writing. I am so glad you have that and are doing it. Your blog should be scooped up and plopped within a hardcover. It would make a wonderful memoir.

Thanks for this post.

secret agent woman said...

Giving up on dreams, letting go of hope - I do not do well with these and feel I handle them in a graceless fashion. But maybe there is no good way.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I did start a book about the Alzheimer's experience a few years ago, but living it doesn't leave much time for writing. It's also painful to rehash everything, but I do hope to return to it at some point. Thanks for always being so encouraging.


Perhaps you do not do well at things which go against your natural instincts. I would trust the latter because they will always give a higher return than anything negative, as you know.

kristi said...

I agree, you should still cook and you can bring things to him. Hugs to you..I am so behind in my blog reading.