Driving home in a misting yet soaking rain tonight, I had a thought that shook me to my heart's core, making me nearly stop my car. My ex-husband and I were together for 20 years before we separated and divorced. In that time we made memories, had a life together, grew up, grew wiser, learned new things, explored new places and spent lots of time talking, making the memories I always thought we would be able to share even as we were not a couple anymore. To look back on and remember. To share stories with each other and our children and grandchildren. To always have those days of youth, health and happiness. Safely stored where we could reach for them anytime like ripened apples from a tree.
This summer, I learned he is losing his memory. Dementia I am told. Mid stage. He didn't recognize me even as I hugged him at Charlie's memorial service. I thought his reaction was left over anger. I did not recognize it for what it was to become.
There can be no more anger in me for the loss of our marriage. Everything in the life we knew has been replaced with sorrow. Sorrow on my part. Sorrow he is not even aware of. Sorrow he can not recall or place.
He can not remember our stories or how to play the piano, guitar, accordion, recorder or banjo. The banjo I saved my paychecks from the bookstore for one full year to buy. He can no longer build furniture or play cribbage. The person he was is gone and on a Saturday family gathering recently, the first in years, he was a child. Childlike. Lost in a group of people he loved. Searching faces for who they were, searching for answers that even if told, would not stay with him.
The thought that shook me tonight was purely selfish on my part. If I am the only one left to remember our stories, did they happen or in my awayness from him, is there any point in my remembering? I am alone in my memories and I just did not see that coming. For that reason sadness and grief have become my companions.