April 18, 2013 and April 1, 1016 are significant days that my family will always remember. Like marks chiseled on a door frame, they will be forever engraved in our minds. They will make us swallow, stifle a tear or two, but mostly make us stop and praise the Lord that we were given a precious gift of a few more years with our most special man.
First, he was diagnosed with (FTD) Frontotemporal Dementia, which is caused by progressive nerve cell loss in the brain’s frontal lobes (the areas behind your forehead) or its temporal lobes (the regions behind your ears), most likely caused (or sped up) by 4 significant blows to the head. Three years later he survived a stroke, which left him wheelchair bound for 10 months.
I don’t think we are alone in measuring time by landmarks: when we were married, had our children, grandchildren, moved, changed jobs… But never, did we celebrate them like we do now.
We were told at the time of the diagnosis that my favorite man had (on average) 6-8 years to live from the time of onset. On April 18, my husband will have reached his 6 year anniversary.
Honestly, we feel like he is doing well. There are seven stages of FTD and I would guess that he falls in the fifth stage. On average, a dementia patient remains in this stage for about 4 years. As long as we keep his world small and predictable, he continues to be highly functional and needs minimal assistance. At this stage, my husband is quite easy to manage and remains fairly content.
What this means is that we don’t look too far into the future for anything and we celebrate nearly everything. It makes me think: What if everyone looked at life as “one more”? What if we slowed down and stopped looking toward the next —- and just celebrated today- the wonderful, beautiful today?
Today we took our first walk of the season to the ocean, and had one more ice cream. We sat on the warm rocks and watched one more tide roll in, and listened to one more windstorm.
Perhaps we all need a mindset change. Instead of “sitting through one more dreaded meeting”, we looked at the time as one more opportunity to gather with colleagues? Instead of “one more work week”, we looked at the blessing of a job that fulfills us?
Everybody has a hard job, and everyone goes through hard times. But what if… What if we took the time to be thankful and joy-filled because God has graced us and blessed us with “one more”?
One more day to say “I love you.”
One more day to hold his hand on a walk.
One more day to close my eyes and feel the warmth on my body while listening to the waves slap against the rocks, smelling the salty air.
There will come a day when I will miss watching the 2016 election, putting down the toilet seat, and running into furniture that has been moved yet again. There will be a day when I will plead and beg for just one more day.