Slice of Life/Caregiving/Unconditional Love
By – Sheri de Grom
I’m desperate. I’ve lost my heart.
I’ve looked everywhere.
Last night in a panic I cleaned everything, and I do mean everything.
At the end table by my favorite chair I shook out magazines, picked up 50 or more Prismacolor Premier Pencils, and placed them in their case where they belonged, sorted reams of research materials I’ve received and not had the time to read. I went through 3 or 4 weeks of mail, picked up my manicure things and still no heart.
Down on my knees I looked under the table and under my chair, behind the table, the windowsill and any number of places nearby, no heart.
I can’t believe it. My heart is still missing and I always find my heart.
Over the years, Tom has been leaving small silver hearts for me all around the house and then he waits for me to find them. Sometimes I’ll find them the next day and it’s never taken me longer than a week.
The silver hearts have never been a once a week deal or even once a month. I never had a clue as to when one might appear and I never knew why with the exception of Tom’s loving me unconditionally.
This time was different–he’d hidden one so long ago, he’d grown worried that I’d tossed it out with the trash. This is the first time he’s ever told me he left a heart and approximately where.
Did my heart go in the big green dumpster? I know it’ll be lonely and still wondering why I haven’t found it like all the others. I cherish each one. They are as important to me as all the gold and diamond jewelry Tom’s designed and made me over the years.
The hearts are unique and I have no idea how many more he’s made. He hasn’t been able to work in his shop for a long time.
As the woman at Tom’s side, I want that heart. It’s something for me to hold onto when the nights are lonely and I wonder how I’m going to keep his breathing going and keep the wounds clean. In years gone by, I often wondered how many times I could bring Tom back to reality after another psychotic break. Today, I pray God will continue to allow me to do whatever it is that I’ve been doing that opens his trachea and allows him to breathe.
Tom continues to fall frequently and I’ve discovered a new way to cope instead of trying to help Tom up immediately. I’ll lay on the floor with him and wrap my body around his. I’ll toss a throw over us for warmth and we often go to sleep. Sometimes when we wake we find we both have the energy to hang onto the furniture and get up one more time.
Tom laughed last week and said, “Isn’t this what we used to do way back when?” I reminded him those memories are as sweet today as they were 30+ years ago.
The laughter presented a gift all it’s own. I can’t remember the last time I’d heard that full throated laughter I’d taken for granted all those years ago.
About my heart–it’s still missing. And, it’s my fault. You see, I’m into pile management and the past few months have been worse than ever.
I’ve been working on a VA appeal for Tom and I to receive help with his care. The paperwork has demanded my attention for 12 to 15 hours a day [yes, I moved back into my workaholic mode] but the decision by the VA will determine how much longer I’ll be able to care for Tom. If we obtain assistance, we should be set to live in our present home until one of us departs this earth.
You might imagine the amount of paperwork I’m talking about when I tell you I’ve had to gather, sort, read and highlight relevant material from his medical records since Nov 1, 1987! That’s a lot of paper and a lot of piles.
The hours I’m working on the VA paperwork seem to consume me alive, heart and all. It’s definitely the reason I haven’t posted a blog since mid-November and the reason I haven’t been around to chat with everyone.
When I do find my heart, it will go on this beveled glass tray Tom made for me wherein he preserved a crochet fancy piece made by my Grandmother Fromm.
The glass is an exquisite dusky rose with semi-precious stones making up the decorative wire work on each end. This captivating work of art is the perfect place for my hearts.
In the meantime, I wish you and your loved ones the most joyous Christmas ever. May we have Peace on Earth.
I hope to post 2 additional blogs before the end of the year taken from my journal notes of our first Christmas in Washington, D.C. They will close out my 4th year of blogging and relaying to you, my readers, the reality bipolar disorder presents when it arrives at your door.
We no longer worry about bipolar disorder. I watch daily the destruction bipolar disorder contributes to Tom’s pain. It’s the pain of inhabiting his own body wherein there’s no relief. It’s the unforgivable ignorance physicians display when they withhold treatment because an individual has a mental disorder. This is the ultimate stigma determining life and death of those we love.