I have chosen a memory facility… the most difficult decision of my life.
Today I signed a paper that says I will take my husband to live there – not here.
No words can describe how I feel. I can barely do anything because of the pain in my heart, the lump in my stomach. I feel like crying all the time. Sitting alone in the family room after Bo has gone to bed, lying in bed at 2 am unable to sleep, driving down the highway, walking Emma around the park — no matter where I am, the pain and the tears follow me.
My guilt is unbearable. I’ve signed a paper that ends life as we know it. A paper that will cause Bo to feel betrayed and alone, lost and confused.
How will I choose the day? I have a month to plan his room, to label all of his clothes, buy a bed and mattress, find a mover, buy his supplies …. It’s like the countdown to my execution.
I have visited five times; Bo has visited and had lunch twice (without knowing where he was or why); Emma dog has visited three times(pet friendly!); our friend Michael went too. I stood in the hall and watched the other 22 residents, and I listened to the activity director as she discussed the day’s news with a small group. I stood in his now empty room, and I looked at the side garden, trying to picture Bo picking up leaves.
It’s a beautiful place, new and clean. He’ll have his own room with bath and half-kitchen (refrigerator, but no stove.) His room will be across from the dining room (near the ice cream) and close to the main living-activity rooms.
It’s a continuing care community, so outside of the memory center there are 150 people living in independent and assisted apartments that surround a beautiful open atrium area where residents can sit, walk, enjoy the lovely landscaping. Inside, is an elegant, living area, a restaurant for all meals, a theater, beauty shop, exercise room. But Bo will only be able to go there when accompanied. Alzheimer’s patients must be behind a locked door in the special section called Spring Cottage.
Will I see him? Of course, I will. Almost every day, I’m sure, and we will continue our car rides, ice cream stops, walks, time together. Emma will always be there too, and Bo can come home for short or long visits … whatever works for us. But he will be living there and I’ll be here.
So, today I signed papers for a 30-day trial. I sat there in the office and cried as I went through all of the forms, Emma lying with her head on my foot. And I kept asking myself if I am doing the right thing. Am I doing it too soon? Am I doing it at the right time?
For Bo? For me?