"I'm afraid you will leave me," was the surprising and unusually articulate response to a probing question I posed yesterday to determine whether there was any definable reason for Michael's increased withdrawal and fatigue. Frankly, I expected a more mundane answer: a virus was lurking or his stomach hurt. But I have learned that, even if it is something as simple as a mild cold, that can be enough to unhinge his thinking and push him into the depths of paranoia and delusions. And render him oddly articulate.
I reassured him, somewhat sourly and not as gently as I should have, that I have no intention of going anywhere. I have stuck it out this far, right? Besides, I'm not the one who is leaving. He is. Has. The Michael I knew and married left me a long time ago for the demanding and unforgiving new mistress that is Parkinson's Disease. I have simply been relegated to the post of Chief Cook, Nurse, Housekeeper and General Factotum. On occasion the old Michael will emerge, but that person has almost completely gone now and only surfaces unexpectedly, rarely and usually in the company of others, not just for me.
There was one occasion, in the throes of one of his many psychotic crises, that he actually accused me of having an affair. If he hadn't been so ill, I would have been highly offended but instead I let out a loud guffaw at the silliness of such an idea. Even if I wanted to, when on earth would such an occasion present itself, let alone a willing partner in crime? My thirty-one years of marriage have been devoted to my children and my husband - and happily so - but it has been a busy life, affording no opportunities for clandestine affairs, especially during the past two years of very intensive care.
But his comment, quickly forgotten by him, rattled around in my brain long after. Michael and I, over the years, have had an uncanny connection; finishing the other's sentences, sensing things before they were articulated. Michael even went into "labour" with me the first time. Most long-married couples experience this, I am sure. I don't think I am particularly good at hiding my feelings either. Perhaps everyone can read me like a book. Nevertheless, I started to think about it and felt twinges of guilt because recently my mind has been stepping out.
Lately, as reported in an earlier post, I must engage my fantasy world to assuage certain longings. During my conscious, waking hours, I can easily summon the ghost of my relationship with Michael. But it is during my nocturnal subconscious wanderings that I am seeing the change. Where, until recently, my dreams only ever involved my husband, now I am summoning other faces and bodies, some achingly familiar. I awaken feeling sad, and though I can in no way control where and with whom my subconscious decides to travel while I sleep, I am still left with a sense of my own betrayal. I miss intimacy terribly, often painfully, but I know in my heart that I would never consciously betray my bonds with my long-suffering Michael. Only in my dreams am I doing that.
So, rather than Michael merely expressing his own dark irrational fears, perhaps he is still finely tuned to me, sensing, at least on a subconscious level, that I have already taken a dangerous step away from him. And maybe I am preparing myself for the ultimate separation.