For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been feeling the analogy of putting on a scuba suit, at least a mask and breathing tank, preparing to go under and bring my husband back to the surface. Not that I really can, of course…he is surfacing on his own, in brain and body. But still I look for ways to get in there myself…not just sit and wait. I am toughening up, learning to conserve oxygen and energy, preparing to survive in yet another foreign environment…especially as we expect to be moved to a rehabilitation center (yet again…it was put off for a couple of weeks, but the hospital staff is preparing us for our move.)
The other night, while dining at a restaurant, an older couple at the next table struck up a conversation. Before long he was describing his own 3 month ordeal of being, in his words, “out under the sea.” He described how his wife of fifty years, who happened to be a rehab nurse herself, would show up in his the dream he was experiencing. He said: “I would be back in the memory of a childhood classroom or out deep sea fishing on a boat and my wife kept showing up. I kept thinking: ‘What is SHE doing here?'” As a rehab nurse, she said he was her most difficult patient ever because he was so stubborn. But she also said it was her stubborn patients that were the ones who excelled at recovery. This 75 year old man had got his life back, learned to walk and talk again, even though he didn’t have the strength of youth on his side. And both of them appreciated each other more than ever. They joked sweetly like young lovers and best friends. It was a magical conversation.
I loved that he mentioned being out at sea, as I had been thinking of this analogy and working on these little paintings, wondering how I might best come alongside my husband, wherever he is in his mind.
For all I know he is having a great time and wonders why I keep showing up in his dream. Perhaps he is unlocking the mysteries of the universe. Deep sea treasure hunting. I hope he remembers when he surfaces completely.
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.