I Couldn't Care Less: To have Loved and Lost (Part 2)
The difficulty, I have found, with writing about a way you feel at times is that it can be so fleeting. You experience an emotion and recognise that it is one that you have felt often before. You decide that sharing this would be a good idea, and that writing about it would also be beneficial. Then, when it comes to writing about it, you don't feel it anymore. You may wonder if it was an exaggeration, or imagination. You may even feel guilty for feeling it, or for imagining that you did. It is odd for loss to be experienced fleetingly. Mine, though, comes and goes. When I am not feeling it, it feels fleeting, but when I am feeling it, it feels as if I feel it all the time. And that is the pithy version.
Much twaddle is written about love, mainly in the interests of making it seem clearer and more obvious than it is. I levelled this complaint against Tennyson recently. My personal favourite quote is 'Love – it is a bugger of a thing' but extraordinarily the internet has failed to pin this one down for me. I had a few ideas, but nothing certain. Anyway, it is, if you ask me. I would not presume to tell you how to know when you are definitely in love, but I suggest that a good clue is that the object of your affection has, by one means or another, caused you by proxy to feel every emotion you can think of. Love, of course. Hate, rage, sorrow, fear, joy, excitement. All thanks to the one you love. But loss is the gift that keeps on giving.
I promised you another lost love, didn't I? Well here it is. When you are a carer you can spend your entire life living with, married to, caring for, someone who's self drifts in and out. This is of course most cruelly felt by those who care for Alzheimer's sufferers. I suspect they may be Gods among carers. But I can certainly say for myself that my wife is not always herself. Between pain, fatigue, depression, abuse trauma, partial sight and a hundred other various maladies, she is stripped away. She is often angry, snappy, tired, confused, or simply unable to enjoy the life she did when we met. I remember she laughed for about three days when she discovered a town in Wales called 'Splot'. I remember distinctly being struck by the fact that she actually makes a 'tee-hee' noise quite spontaneously when she laughs. She doesn't laugh much, at the moment. Her illness seems to demand so much of her, and of me, and give us both very little in return. A good night's sleep, an hour without pain, a pleasant afternoon in the sunshine.
But then, as I mentioned before, these feelings can feel fleeting. This loss is an unpleasant one, in the way it comes and goes, but it does offer one of my favourite things in the whole world: hope. Hope is brilliant, because you never, ever have to accept anything until it has actually happened. And you never should. Life is strange, unpredictable and frequently the finest minds you can call upon can only offer a shrug by way of explanation. As painful as this so often is, it can also be marvellous. Because as long as your loved one isn't truly lost they can always be found. And kept. In the meantime, and for those of you who have yet to lose: remember. I will never lose my wife as long as I have our memories. Our wedding video, our photograph albums. And of course, we'll always have Splot.