Ch.180 Pat’s Been Gone Exactly Six Months Today

Ch.180 Pat’s Been Gone Exactly Six Months Today

          Jan.1, 2023

 “Not all who wander are lost. Some of us are just out looking for magic and rocks to add to our collection.” *

(* Jasmine L@CrystalLoversTribe)

Today, Jan.1, 2023, happens to be the exact six-month anniversary of Pat’s death on July 1, 2022. Happy New Year indeed.

I knew I didn’t want to face this day entirely alone. So, I invoked my three-child support system in preparation for what I thought might be a difficult day. First, I took some time talking with Jenny about the upcoming date; then, I arranged to visit Cindy and her family in Rochester yesterday; and then, today, I met over breakfast with Joshua and Patty.

Half-way through breakfast, Joshua showed me a text he’d in turn received from a colleague in the social work department. It included the phrases I copied at the beginning of this essay. That saying perfectly captures Pat’s spirit. She always wandered around, hoping to get a little lost, and she usually emerged from these journeys with a rock (or six) to add to her collection. I suspect she found plenty of magic along the way, although she didn’t share much of that with me due to my inherent skepticism (which I now regret).         

I live alone. And I am lonely. That is an unavoidable aspect of loving and losing my wife of 56 years. But I still have many of Pat’s rocks to honor my beautiful wanderer.

In some ways, today is just another day – but it isn’t. It’s an important marker because calendar dates and passages have always been significant to me. Six months isn’t very much time, certainly not enough to feel that my grief work is anywhere near completed (as if it will ever be completed). I still find myself tearing up every day, albeit for shorter periods than before. I do laugh more than at first, mostly chuckles at clever writing from the fiction authors I read. People tell me they are surprised by how well I seem to be doing, by which I think they mean they didn’t realize I’d be able so soon to develop and maintain friendships, volunteer at Azura (Pat’s memory care facility), and work to become more proficient at my hobby, colored pencil drawing. I have mostly kept my depressive tendencies at bay, although I do sense they linger nearby.

After breakfast with Joshua and Patty, I went shopping and almost immediately ran into Betty, a friend of mine from my dementia support group. Betty shared her dismay at finding her 80-year-old husband placidly coloring in a children’s coloring book; that triggered a strong memory I have of Pat happily holding two dolls in her arms. Pat was smiling, content, and looking a little lost.

Pat loved to wander. Maybe Lewy Body created another path in which Pat could explore, get a little lost, and discover some magic. Perhaps that’s why Pat never seemed scared of her dementia.