G is for grief. And it’s also for guilt.
If I had been a better wife, if I had loved Jack more selflessly, more deeply, might I have prevented his brain from developing Progressive Supranuclear Palsy? Is it possible that, if I had only been a better person myself, I could have, somehow, in some way, spared him the attack upon his brain and body and psyche by this Godawful disease?
Yes, I know this is crazy.
But while we’re exploring this fantasy, here’s another, more relevant question.
Might I, even now, if I could only get through an entire day without irritation and frustration, if I could manage even an hour of pure, selfless love, might I turn this around for him? Somehow stop the progression of this PSP which is stealing him from me one God Damn step at a time?
Yesterday, I was asked when I would be willing to entrust Jack’s care to professionals? What would have to happen before I could make the decision to put him in skilled nursing? How far am I willing to ruin my own health? How much will I give up of myself before I decide that he needs more care than I can provide.
My only answer was, “We’re not there yet.”
This morning I looked again at the five stages of grief.
‘Stages’ is a misnomer. ‘Stages’ implies a smooth transition from one mental stair-step to another. Like all caregivers, I go through the list a half-dozen times a day. Though admittedly, I may currently be confusing acceptance with exhaustion.
But looking at the list it occurred to me that I may be stuck at bargaining. And that may be why I am not ready to discuss the possibility of Jack eventually needing more care than I can provide. Some deep, purely emotional, part of me believes I can still save him. If only I can find the right kind of love within my own flawed self, I can somehow heal his brain, call him back to me, spare him all of this.
Of course I know this is ridiculous. We’re not living in a fairy tale. No magic lion is going to softly exhale his healing breath over Jack. No amount of sacrifice or love on my part is going to fix what is happening to his brain.
I know that, right?