In a recent round table of helping professionals and those they serve, I was jolted into a new awareness of my life. Something has been slowly morphing in the background for the past few years, but it’s sudden sense of completeness caught me unaware. I introduce myself to the group as a spouse to my husband. Full stop. The word caregiver doesn’t even enter my mind. I’ve suddenly passed a threshold and feel like I’m in the scene from Forrest Gump where he’s running away from the taunting bullies and his leg braces break off, leaving him to run free like he always could.
I’m ecstatic inside, buzzing with my own adrenaline rush realizing the power of the words I’ve unconsciously chosen and the new truth they represent. The words came without effort or deliberation, innocently slipping into the outer world to be taken into the collective consciousness. I note the date and exact time. December 15, 7:02 pm. While the rest of the discussion continues around me, I repeat the words “I’m a spouse” to myself, silently savouring their reverence.
I cannot wait to tell him of this news from our world that we’ve shared for almost 30 years now, with more than a third of those years fading into the hole of brain injury induced disconnection. During those years I slowly and painfully lost the title and honour of being a spouse, while the caregiver role eclipsed our relationship. We’ve both worked diligently the last few years to restore the balance in our relationship. Small changes with glacial speed progress, imperceptible in the every day flow of time.
The quiet time of the night where we share the delights and dilemmas of our day with each other can’t come soon enough for me. As soon as we are nestled in side by side, our heads turned so close to each other that our noses almost touch, I’m grinning at him and covering his face with my kisses at the same time. My eyes sparkle in the dark as I declare to him: “YOU are my spouse. I have a spouse. We did it.” I don’t need any other gifts for Christmas this year.