We are having a good morning today. We are the Audi dealership in Danbury because my car is having an issue with one of the computers that operate the braking system. I was told it would take 3 hours. I said I would wait because the drive is an hour and a half each way, and it hardly seemed worthwhile driving home merely to turn right away and drive back again. I should have asked more questions. It will take 3 hours once the problem is diagnosed, 4 hours total. Still not so bad. I am comfortable here with a book and my knitting.
G came with me and although he brought something to read with him, is happier picking up the magazines that he finds on the coffee table in the waiting area. He gets up and looks at the cars on the showroom floor. "Audis are expensive" he tells me. "It's good we got our car before it was expensive." I don't tell him they were expensive then too. In another hour the entire episode will be repeated word for word. I look up from my knitting and smile at him. He smiles back.
Yesterday was not so good and I was caught by surprise. The day before that, Saturday, we spent the day with a friend of mine and her spouse. It was a lovely day and we chatted and ate at the Culinary Institute. We ate in a restaurant we used to go to all the time, but to which we had not been for a few years. In the evening we nibbled salted dehydrated green beans and gouda. We sat holding hands while we watched In Her Shoes and The Family Stone.
I forget that what I think is good is not necessarily what G thinks is good. When we drop off my friends G tells me that they are very nice people and very interesting. Sunday, I wake up curled next to G, feeling tender and content. G wakes up with a snarl. "You threw me to the lions" he tells me. I am stunned. When I ask him about it he says "yesterday was a very stressful day". Later he tells me "You don't love me. You're just waiting for me to die." I try not to cry. I try not to take it personally. I know this is his fear talking and has nothing to do with me. I know it is the part of his brain that damaged by the NPG, by the swelling of his ventricles. I was told he had moderately significant impairment to the frontal lobe, that some of this would revert to normal once the fluid was drained, but that there would be residual damage which would probably be permanent. No one could predict how, or when, this would manifest itself, or even if it could be corrected over time.
And yet I am still surprised sometimes. I do start to cry. I try not to. We are in the kitchen. I am making breakfast. I ask G not to do something at that particular moment, but there is an edge in my voice because I am still fighting tears, still trying to reason with my emotions. G leaps away. "I'm going to live with my sister", he says. "You are always so mean to me. You don't have to yell at me". I didn't yell, but there is no point in reasoning with him, it will only make things worse. I feel worse.
The air around G is palpably sad and angry Sunday morning. He carries around a cloud of despair, self doubt, fear, and anger; he carries it around much the way Pigpen always trails a cloud of dust. He tries to press it on me, so that if I feel like a failure he will feel better. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I catch myself first and try to save us both.
We have a concert on Sunday afternoon up in the Berkshires. As we get into the car, G tells me that he doesn't want to get in the car with me because he is afraid of me. My heart sinks and I feel sadness washing over me again. Why does he make me feel like an awful person? No. Why do I let myself feel like an awful person? This is not about me. We've discussed this before. I know he is actually afraid I will leave him. But he doesn't understand the difference between "I am afraid you will leave me" and "I am afraid of you" because if I left him he fears it would do him permanent bodily harm. I've never said I would leave him. I will not leave him. I ask him if he is afraid I will leave him at the side of the road like an abandoned kitten. He says yes. I tell him that I will not leave him at the side of the road. I promise him that if we stop I will not drive away without him in the car. He smiles at me and gets in the car.
All during the drive to the concert he tells me how much he loves going to concerts with me and chatters about how much fun we are going to have. The cloud has lifted.
We are still at the Audi dealership. G has just gone to look at the cars again. He comes back. "Audis are expensive" he says. I smile and say "I guess so."