It’s three months today since John’s last stroke. He’s not up yet so by the end of the day that milestone may have been superceded by another; the diagnosis of a possible vascular weakness that has not yet been located or identified is just a bit like a ticking timebomb.
When I started writing Sheweevil life was very different, not easier but less dominated by limitations. We still hoped to go and live somewhere far flung and be a bit self sufficient but those dreams included us both contributing “each according to our ability” with those abilities being fairly evenly matched and nicely complimentary.
Now, daily life: a trip to the shops, a day out at the beach, a meal, all have to be planned in meticulous detail. It seems difficult even to remember life before strokes. I could weep for the man I have lost who is, in so many ways, still here and in subtle and strange ways, absent. It is not what I expected.
When you promise to love someone in sickness and in health if you think about it at all you might, perhaps imagine a tragic ending, an early death or a horrible disease. What you do not expect, what I did not expect, was a series of incremental and kaleidoscopic changes that lead me from Picasso’s Femme aux Bras Croisés to his Portrait of Dora.
We can only minimise risk and mitigate damage. It feels a lot like holding your breath with your fingers, toes and legs crossed whilst trying not to fall over and all this while trying to conduct a normal family life – today it feels like a big ask.