One thing Alzheimer’s can’t take away from us: love

One thing Alzheimer’s can’t take away from us: love

Last year, naturally, I bought a card for my husband for our wedding anniversary. Unnaturally, I didn’t expect one back.

Several years ago, my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I haven’t written anything about it until now because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Although the disease hasn’t progressed as quickly as I feared it might, the words I’ve written here no longer have the power to hurt him.

Anyway, a year ago on our anniversary, I propped up a pink envelope which I covered in crude blue ink-drawn hearts on his pillow. Inside was a card. When he saw the envelope, he grinned and tore into it neatly and carefully, as he does most everything. He got a little teary-eyed, and he said he was going to write something back to me.

I told him it wasn’t necessary, but he was determined to do it anyway. I could see he struggled as he wrote– to find the words, spell them and actually write them down.

It took him about a half an hour before he handed the note to me. But what he wrote was beautiful, poignant, heartfelt. I took a minute to take it all in. I was touched. Grateful for what he chose to do and that he was still able to do it. After all, I didn’t know if a moment like this it would ever happen again.

Which brings me to the other day. Our anniversary had rolled around once again. It was our 37th! As usual, I gave him a card. I could tell he was really touched by it as, once again, as he got verklempt as he read it.

He put the card up on his nightstand. And that was that. He forgot all about the card and our anniversary in a few minutes. This time, it certainly didn’t occur to him that he should give me a card too or write something back.

I wasn’t angry or upset as I would have been years ago, before his official diagnosis. By now, I knew the score. It was not his fault. Still, it made me sad, nostalgic for the way things once were.

One thing I had always cherished in our relationship were the thoughtful, loving cards he would present to me for anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine’s Day. To be sure, they were always commercial cards, but he always added his own handwritten sentiments, personal expressions of love.

Even though I will probably never receive another card or note from my husband again, I’ve kept the cards I’ve received from him over the years, stashed in the bottom drawer of my dresser. I took some of them out today, and they were as lovely as ever (perhaps, a bit mushy, but who doesn’t love mushy from your main squeeze!?).

Don’t get me wrong. Alzheimer’s sucks ass. It’s fucking, fucking horrible. It’s worse than any words–including swear words, I could possibly write. It has robbed my husband of many things, his memory and cognitive abilities, foremost. But the disease has also stolen from me, too, including the ordinary and extraordinary things couples do for each other and with each together.

I notice bits and pieces of my husband disappearing every day. But, so far, he’s still the same sweet, silly, caring, kind, loving person I married. As I glance at these old cards, one thing I can say is that I was never a woman who doubted her husband’s love. And although the disease is taking away his mind, for now at least, it hasn’t taken away his heart.

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Judy Marcus

Judy Marcus is a freelance writer whose work appears in a variety of publications. She’s also a food lover. For news, recipes and commentary about food, check out her blog, Sugar Buzz Chicago. For news and opinions on almost anything else, visit Opinionated Woman.

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