In January of 2007, almost a year to the day Bill had his first stroke, he suffered a second one. This wasn’t as severe, but it was enough to send him to the hospital and then to the nursing home for three more months of therapy. I think both strokes set him back enough that he has never fully recovered.
The following poems from How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver reflect how I felt during this time. The first depicts hopelessness and resignation to being alone again. The second expresses hope that someday, life will get back to normal. Of course it never has.
His side of the bed is empty.
An open space replaces his wheelchair.
His recliner stands vacant.
He’s a victim of fate
in the form of another cerebral bleed,
not as bad as before.
The house is quiet, empty, still
with one less meal to fix,
one less person here.
I believe that one day, you’ll walk through the door,
take me in your arms. We’ll embrace.
What happened a year ago
was a major obstacle flung in our path to wedded bliss.
What happened yesterday was only a small setback.
I knew that, as I sat by your hospital bed.
We laughed, talked.
You dozed from time to time.
I tried to kiss you.
My lips couldn’t reach yours through the side rail.
You reached out, stroked my hair, told me not to worry.
So as I did last year,
I’ll lead my lone existence,
get up in the morning,
make breakfast for one instead of two,
go about my day,
visit you when I can,
go to sleep in my lonely bed,
know that you’ll soon be next to me.
I believe that some day, you’ll walk through the door,
take me in your arms, hold me.
I’ll live for that day.