The conversation always starts the same when someone wants to know about my husband and I. Corey goes to sleep every night and forgets what happened the day before. Like that movie 50 First Dates … I tell them, he has a Traumatic Brain Injury. And then it comes…
“No I don’t,” said the man who can’t remember squat.
Of course it’s the running joke with us, and always has been. After 10 years of marriage, we are used to this. People who don’t understand. People who see Corey and see a normal man “persay” because the disability functions inside the body not outside. People who think he’s lazy because he hasn’t worked since he was 18 and he’s just fudging off the government. People who think he’s lying because nobody can forget that quickly.
We are use to it. It’s a part of our lives. Corey has been dealing with it since the accident that robbed him of every memory he never gets to have. Birthday’s, the kids graduations, moments in sports of a proud father. Our wedding day. The birth of the kids. That’s just how it is.
Sure he’ll tell you he remembers playing sports as a kid growing up. He remembers the boys doing things. He remembers parties, gatherings, people he’s met, things he’s done. The truth is most of these are given. They’ve been told or shared again and again so the long term memory section of his brain can grasp hold on those things and try to store them.
But he can’t tell you what he ate five minutes ago. He can’t remember to get that drink the boys asked him for. He has no recollection as he sits and watches television, that fifteen minutes ago we had an argument because he kept yelling at how he knew things, he remembers, he knows. Or that I spent an hour in the bathroom crying because loving someone who always forgets you yet remembers you at the same time is utterly heart breaking.
“I don’t have a brain injury…” the joke continues and we laugh. We tell these people it’s fun. It’s easy. Living life with someone who has a TBI has it’s blessings and rewards. It’s easy to deal with someone who forgets all the time. I mean think of the benefits.
- Corey is the best person to go to if you want to hide a body
- You can fight and get away with stuff because Corey won’t remember
- You can tell him it’s your birthday and he won’t know the difference
- Corey is the best person to keep all your secrets, he won’t tell a soul
Without humor and being able to laugh at things you have nothing. So yes there are funny benefits to living with Corey but the truth is… Living with someone who has a brain injury is lonely. It’s difficult. It’s frustrating. It’s awful. It’s sad. It’s angry more than people know.
People laugh when we tell them about us. They tell us what a great outlook we have on dealing with this as Corey and I give each other a knowing glance. They say how obvious it is we are in love with one another. You know after ten years of being together 24/7 as I don’t work, being a partial caregiver to Corey and now our son who has disabilities. They are right. We are in love. I’m more in love with my husband today than the day we met, and I couldn’t imagine spending my days and nights with anyone else.
“I don’t have a Traumatic Brain injury…” Corey says again and he laughs.
I laugh along with him. Though deep in my heart there is a sadness in knowing what he doesn’t remember. It will never get better. It will never improve. It will only get worse. I smile up at him, reaching out to hold his hand. I hold it tight as my heart waivers because it doesn’t matter. For better or for worse. This is the job. To love, through sickness and health. Through the good and the bad. Through remembering and not remembering.
People think they know. They think they understand what life is like for someone who has a brain injury. They think it’s no big deal. It’s easy to deal with. I mean Corey always says. “I can’t get upset about what I don’t remember, because I don’t remember enough to get upset about it.”
“I don’t have a Traumatic Brain Injury …” Corey says to me smiling.
Looking at him my heart fills with love. “No you don’t,” I tell him. He leans down and kisses me, telling me how lucky he is to have me. Funny, I feel the exact same, having him in my life.
It doesn’t matter what people think. It doesn’t matter what they feel when they look at Corey. All that matters is he feels loved. Even if it’s only for a moment because that’s all we have. Moments and nothing more.
But I’d rather be loved for one moment in time, then not at all!