The Measure of ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’

Dearest Rachel –

The folks had Daniel and I over for dinner last night; it’s not gotten quite to the level of a Thursday night thing, but it does sometimes seem to be more often than not. Although, after a day of clearing through the basement, I confess that I had forgotten that we had the appointment. Fortunately, the meal wasn’t one that had to be consumed the moment it came out of the oven or off the stove, lest it cool to unpalatability.

It was delicious as always – I should know, having grown up on Mom’s cooking. But one helping was quite sufficient, and when she asked if we would like some more to eat, I responded with, “No, I’m good… well, not good, but… I’m satisfied… well, no, not that, either…”

She knew what I meant, and they both agreed. Even they have been hard pressed to know how to respond when they are asked how they are these days. They have lost a beloved daughter-in-law – how exactly can they say that things are “good”, “fine”, or even “okay”? That’s never going to mean the same thing anymore.

And, of course, as difficult as they find it, they know it’s orders of magnitude harder for Daniel and I to determine what it means anymore to be considered any of those things, or if they can even be attained going forward, or if those terms will just have to be redefined for the future. No matter how pleasant things might be – and we can only hope that things will be pleasant from time to time (even if it’s over something as normal and trivial as the slow warming and brightness of spring and summer as they arrive) – there will always be the bittersweet knowledge that you aren’t there to appreciate those moments from now on. And so, “good” will never be as “good” as it once was.

Still, if the bar has to be dropped in order to call anything “good” anymore, there are in fact days – and nights – that are better than others.

Last night was one of those “better” nights, in fact. You’ll recall how I said that Chompers was having more difficulty maneuvering now that he has more space to walk around in?

Well, last night, after a four-hour nap while Daniel chatted with Pastor Joel, I gave Chompers his night treats (including his Gabapentin, which he has been known to eat around – and being the foodie that he is, that’s quite the achievement), got him outside to do his business, and set him up in the bedroom, fully expecting him to begin the usual routine of discomfort, whine, bark – only to hear the jingling of his tags as he got up, walked to the edge of the bedroom where we keep his water dish, slurped up a whole lot of water, and then jingled his way back to his bedding. After a little bit of walking around (during which I was peering over the bed at him for most of the time), he settled into position, and quietly got himself comfortable enough to go to sleep… without any assistance on my part.

Leave it to him to make a liar out of me barely two or three days after making a claim that he’s getting worse as his space expands.

So yes, there are better days and worse days. In fact, ‘ll go out on a limb and say that it’s not a question of days at all. I’d say it’s down to discrete moments that can be still almost joyful, at least relieving… and other moments that can be painful, even utterly devastating. It’s a roller coaster ride, honey – and I’d just as soon get off of it before I get sick.

But it seems that Daniel and I are both strapped in for the duration, and there’s no getting out of it for now.

I’ll get back to you, honey… as soon as I can get some Dramamine.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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