“So you’re having to learn to live alone all over again.” ~Friend and Byng firefighter Kenny Vogt, December 2021.
Yes, I am. After 17 glowing years of happy marriage, Abby and I find ourselves separated by her health, which restricts her to life in a nursing home.
I thought about this recently as I watched a vlogger my sister recommended named Michele Janse talk about living alone for the first time in years after going through a divorce. Janse has a few good tips, and a decent perspective on what it means to shift from one living paradigm to another.
I see Abby every day (unless circumstance prevents it), and we share the same I love yous and I miss yous that we always have. Sometimes I can bring our Chihuahua to visit her. At the end of the day, though, we are separate, and I live at home alone.
But I’m not really alone. Her DNA and style remains in this house. Her love for me stays right in my heart with my love for her. And finally, our dogs are always ours, and being with them and enjoying being with them belongs to both of us, as something we built together.
Janse is young enough that she hasn’t really had any persistent, definitive experience of living alone. I lived alone from 1985 to 2004, so I had a lot of practice to find out how I wanted to live.
It is a completely different experience living in our house without Abby. For reasons that remain unclear, the house seems smaller now. I’ve moved this chair and that stack of magazines, but overall, I haven’t changed anything significantly enough that I couldn’t have it back the way it was before evening. That’s out of respect for her, not hope that she will come home, which I believe she will not.
In recent days, Abby has been asking me to bring more of her things to her, especially things for her to do, like magazines, sewing, and crochet. I take that as a sign that she is hopeful and happier with her circumstance.
As far as what is keeping her in need of long-term care, it is her physical strength, core muscles and leg muscles, that is keeping her from caring for herself. And honestly, I could probably take care of her if I were retired, but I work for a living, sometimes out of town, so long-term care is the road we are taking.