Alex sits in his wheelchair watching Jeopardy with his wife. His right arm is drooping and, though he is following the conversation with big eyes like a three or four year old might, he only now and again says “I don’t know” or “okay.” His wife tells me of the 7 TIAs, 2 strokes, bladder surgery and prostate surgery he had endured in the last 7 years. She says that every time he loses a little bit more.
I ask her if she has help taking care of him. She says that she has people who come stay with him while she goes grocery shopping or runs errands. But she doesn’t get a break for herself.
While she and I are talking, his left arm fumbles toward her elbow, finally reaching it to clumsily caress it. He looks up at her with eyes that say something like, “I love you. I’m so sorry.”
She bends over and looks him full in the face. Silence for a holy moment.
“One day at a time,” she says to him. “Right?”
She looks at me. “That was always his motto. He’d always remind me of that — just one day at a time. It’s gotten us through a lot.”
She looks back at him; his hand still cups her elbow. “So we do it one day at a time.”
He slaps her upper arm playfully a couple times with his clumsy left hand, and gives her a lopsided grin.