With the petty fights we keep finding ourselves in and the multitude of responsibilities we continue to pile on, I wonder if we will survive if Alzheimer’s ever touches one of us. That’s a loaded question really… will our marriage survive Alzheimer’s?
Something happened to me today, nothing tragic, just sort of a “aha” moment if you will. I found myself thinking of a far distant future. I found myself wondering if I would be capable of tending to my husband in our old age.
What’s to Come?
When the thought process first entered my mind, I was thinking along the lines of my physical health and strength. Today I drank a soda after 11 days without. It’s making me sick, but I know if I want to pick it back up I could, as I have done so in the past. I had to tell myself why I wasn’t going to delve back into soda. Today I gave myself a lecture I didn’t anticipate giving.
Without going into the details, I wandered into our future, and all the possibilities of our life together. What if my husband were in a wheel chair? What if he needed chemotherapy? Then I thought about the hard one… what if he were to get Alzheimer’s? I let that though sink deep in my brain and in my heart until a tear trickled down my cheek. Would we survive Alzheimer’s together?
It’s Heart Wrenching to Think About.
I don’t believe in dwelling on the “What ifs” of life, because that can cause a person to be anxious and worrisome. There’s no need for that, as God has better plans for my mind! Still I contemplated on the idea of how Alzheimer’s effects people and their families, and it’s all so heartbreaking.
In movies, you’ll see an instance when a loved one with Alzheimer’s recognizes their spouse, and is flooded with emotion because it’s all come back to them in a memory flash. What would my husband remember during that flash if he were to have those memories brought to the surface instantaneously?
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.
I imagine he’ll remember our happy times, but what if that’s not the case? The problem, when you’re in the thick of it (which we are with four young kids and another on the way), is the “bad” begins to outweigh the good. “Bad” doesn’t really mean bad, it’s just a phrase for the hard work you’re putting into making your life better later on… the school, the career, the child rearing, the marriage hurdles, our faith, etc.
It’s so easy to let life be so consumed by these little, petty, everyday scenarios, but why? Why should I care to remember thinking about how unfair it is to have to be the one to get up with the kids every morning, and in the middle of the night? Why do I dwell on the tiny “flaws” I see in my husband and turn them into something personal towards me? Is that the way God intended my life to be?
If my husband ends up getting Alheimer’s later down the road, will he all of a sudden remember me with this cantankerous, scrunched up face because that’s who he saw 80% of the time we were together? If so, how will he react to me and will he know I’ve always loved him most in my life?
Power Through, Yes, but Don’t Just Power Through
Thinking on Alzheimer’s down the road as a married couple makes me desire to place a better spin on life than just “powering through”. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times when we do need to push through the pain and power through a difficult situation, but our lives can’t be made up of instant after instant like that. We need to feel each other’s love and care in some way, every day.
Feeling someone’s love sometimes means putting down your guard, as I’ve had to do plenty of times. I learned how often I was blocking my husband from showing me that genuine love. That allowed him to show me his feelings his way was better. My feelings were hurt occasionally in the process, but it was always worth it.
Find Something to Smile About
The questions I had eventually came down to this major one: How often do I smile at my husband? How could I make a choice to smile more? Be more joyful? Or is my smile only ever dependent on someone else?
Stop Forgetting the Fun and Good Times
My husband shared a fond memory he had with me long before we were married, and I just couldn’t recall the same day. It was like he had created it in his dream and I was never actually there with him. I too have a day with my husband I’ll never forget and can recall the changing leaves on the bluff, the wind in my hair as we drove down the highway, and even the smells all around. I’ll never forget looking at him and wondering if we’d drive that highway together in our 80s and 90s. He doesn’t remember any of it.
Why do we forget these simple happy times? Our minds can only hold so much, and with each new dreadful thing we remember, which each new daunting task we worry over. We end up pushing those simple memories out.
I’m Not Sure, But I’m Going to Try!
The thing of it is, I’m not exactly sure what to do in order for our marriage to survive something as catastrophic as Alzheimer’s Disease. What I do know is that I have a lot more power than I’ve let on, to live a happier life with my husband. I may still have troubles down the road, but I can be active in living a better married life… perhaps living a better life period.