It seems that so many of life’s blessings are mixed, filled with both joy and sorrow, gain and loss. Tonight feels that way to me.
I’m excited that early tomorrow afternoon, Ben will arrive at the door of the rehab center, ready to take me home to return to a life briefly interrupted by the events of the past two weeks. I’m elated that I’ve improved enough to be considered able to be home, taking care of my own needs. I’m also a little nervous about not having the safety net of a team of dedicated professionals who are as close as a small grey button, should I need assistance.
I walk quite well with both walker and cane, and although the walker feels more secure, I’m gradually transitioning to the cane except when I’m out among people. The walker gives me more protection and provides a greater visibility in crowded places. I can take a shower by myself, as long as I use a shower chair, I can manage all of my personal care, and I’ll have a tray attachment on my walker for carrying coffee and food from kitchen to dining area. It all sounds so mundane, but it feels so enormous to be able to do these things after hip replacement surgery less than two weeks ago.
Why, then, is there sorrow? Well, I will leave behind a group of wonderful people here at Marquis Care at Vermont Hills. They have helped and encouraged me, they’ve cheered my achievements, listened to my fears and worries, provided shoulders to cry on – quite literally on a couple of occasions – asked always about Jim, provided comic relief, and have, in just a few short days, become like another family. Julie, Lynette, Nicole, LaShaunda, JoAnna, Angela, Cheryl, Angelica, Debbie, Lisa – all names that recall faces and kindnesses I will never forget. Although I have jokingly referred to this place as “The Old Folks’ Home,” it truly has been a place of rest and refreshment for me, as well as a place of rehabilitation. It fits none of the stereotypes of nursing homes, being instead a place where people care – and it shows.
And the greater sorrow for me will be returning home without Jim. He has been discharged from hospital and is undertaking his own rehabilitation at a place much closer to our home. A place where I will be able to visit more often, and a place that will help him recover and return to our interrupted life.
I’m optimistic that he won’t be there long, but each day apart is its own kind of sorrow. I miss him and I know he misses me. He has come from a far place to where he is today, and there is still much work to be done. He has some trouble with words and he’s undertaking the job of retraining his right hand. But my Jim is a man who has never shirked hard work, and there’s no reason to think this time will be different. I’m so thankful that the man I married last summer knows who I am, who our children, grandchildren and friends are; I’m thankful that he can carry on a conversation; and that the weakness in his right side isn’t major or permanent. Things could have been so much worse.
But when I sit on the deck tomorrow afternoon – and that’s in my definite plans – I will feel incomplete. My joy at being home will be tainted by longing for my Jim to be with me. But soon, very soon, he will join me on the deck, we’ll admire our glorious red rhododendrons, our azaleas, fuschias, vine maples – all the beauty that our beloved home offers us. And we will resume our interrupted life together.