My wonderful, strong, caring Dad suffered a stroke two weeks ago. It has left him with some paralysis that will never go away, as well as some weaknesses that will get better over time. He also has what can only be described as a fog clouding his mind and memory - he can't remember a lot of things, especially when he's tired, and his thought processes have been slowed down. He needs quite a bit of care now, a reminder that he needs to eat, and to shower, and help - with dressing, going out of the house, doing simple tasks. My wonderful, young, strong Dad who would give the entire world to keep me and my siblings safe, who has been my rock since I was born, who never falters in his strength, in his patience with us when things go wrong, who means the entire world to me, has suddenly become someone who needs us to care for him.
This weekend has really hit me hard. Usually the type who in a crisis turns to steel, and soldiers on until things are sorted again, I have found myself in a bit of a crumbling mess. I suppose that's what happens, when something happens to the only man in the world you truly love, when you have to accept that no, your Dad is not the invincible superman you have always believed he was. I have spent much of this weekend with my parents, running errands for them, being there with them, cooking and shopping and making sure I can do as much as I can, and each time I have come home and cried. And cried some more.
My marriage has gotten me through this weekend. I don't mean that I wouldn't have gotten through it if S was just my girlfriend, but the permanence and deep rooted tie that bonds two people in marriage has been my saviour. You see whilst my friends and wider family have sent flowers, texts and messages, and constantly asked "if there is anything I can do", my wife has simply stood next to me, with my hand in hers, understanding that there is nothing that can be done. When I have spent hours on the phone to insurance companies, my parent's places of employment and doctor's surgeries, my wife has just been there, quietly there, telling me it will be OK. She has kissed the tears from my cheeks and taken me in to her arms, knowing that there are no words to make this hurt go away, but also letting me know that I can lean on her, she will be my strength.
I feel as though our lives have been catapulted into a new sense of reality since our wedding day. Not only one where we share this incredible secret that no-one else will ever know, but also one where we have cemented the transition to become the 'adults', we are no longer the children that turn to our parents for help, instead we turn to each other, as our parents become the ones who need care from us. I think this transition commenced the day we met, and was completed on the day we promised to be in this partnership forever. She is my partner, she is my equal, she is the woman I look forward to spending every single day for the rest of my life with, but this weekend has also shown just how much she is also my strength. Just being there, quietly there, side by side she stands with me, allowing me to not be strong for a while, she helps me navigate the storm and holds me tight until we reach calmer waters.
This song, by one of my wifes favourite artists, listened to in her arms, reminds us of that.