“And what state do you live in, John?”
The doctor looked straight, yet thoughtfully into the eyes of my befuddled 55-year-old husband and waited for an answer. Nothing but an awkward silence followed---just the ticking of the hallway clock.
A blank stare lingered in John’s tired chocolate eyes. As Dr. Martin opened his mouth to repeat the question, John shifted his gaze from the wall to me.
“The state of confusion,” he finally replied, a tear trickling down his cheek.
Dr. Martin smiled, and then continued his battery of tests.
Minutes later, he motioned for a nurse to lead John into the waiting room to stay with him while he talked with me.
He closed the cold sterile door, and pulled out a chair. Then he took my trembling hands, and looked into what, I’m sure, were anxious eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he began. “I’m afraid your husband’s in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease.”
I swallowed hard, staring out the window. How could this be? He’s only 62 years old and hasn’t even enjoyed his retirement yet..”
As Dr. Martin, glanced at his charts, continuing with his report, I felt like I, too, had entered the state of confusion. I barely comprehended what followed. Only that we should take it one step, one day at a time.
“I’ve heard that before,” I snorted with resentment in my tone. Dr. Martin knew how I had struggled for years with my husband’s alcoholism, though, thankfully, John had finally found recovery in his AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) program. “
After years of living with an alcoholic, I finally had a sober husband. And now this?
Confused, myself, I grabbed my purse, meeting my waiting husband. “Let’s go, honey. Don’t worry. Everything’s gonna be all right,” I mumbled, not meaning it.
Driving home, I thought about how my life would change. First, a codependent----And now a caretaker?
Once home, it took me an hour just to get John settled and prepare dinner. No sooner had I stir-fried some veggies than the phone rang in the living room. I ran and answered it.
When I walked back into the kitchen, John was scraping out the skillet of food into the kitchen garbage pail.
“What are you doing?” I hollered, shaking him. “That was our dinner!”
He seemed startled by my reaction and mumbled, sheepishly, “I was just trying to help clean up.”
It was already six o’clock in the evening, but he was then pouring milk on top of a bowl of Cheerios, humming, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.”
How could he be so confused? He wakes up before dawn and pops a TV dinner in the microwave, thinking it’s time for dinner, and when the sun goes down, he eats breakfast?
I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to get some fresh air.
I flew outside, slamming the screened door.
“Why God why?” I shook an angry first at the heavens. “This just isn’t fair. Isn’t it time for some happiness before we die? First booze, and now this?”
Feeling just as confused as John, I couldn’t even remember why I was outside. Should I jump into the car and drive away? Or trudge back inside, fall into bed and not wake up? I was more bewildered than my crazy, mixed-up husband. Was I catching this dreadful disease from him?
I gazed back up into the heavens for an answer, waiting for a reply. But there was only a dead silence----just as still as when Dr. Martin had waited for John’s answers to his tests earlier today.
Later, I heard quiet footsteps behind me. John took my sweaty palms as we settled on the porch swing.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, fingering my hair. “Have you forgotten the first step?”
“The first step?”
“You know. Admit we’re powerless.”
“But, remember step three,” he continued, pointing a finger toward the heavens---“We do have a higher power. Like you said, dear, everything’s gonna be all right.”
“Thanks for reminding me,” I whispered, squeezing his hand. Then I bowed my head, and started to pray the closing prayer we always concluded with at our Ala-non meetings…
“I put my hand in yours and, together, we can do what we could never do alone…,” I prayed, slowly, as John joined in.
“Yes, my dear,” I said looking into his eyes, this time meaning it.
I took a deep breath. “Everything is gonna be alright.”
*This story is fiction.
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