It started with little things like misplacing the car keys and forgetting our phone number.
“You are growing old, my love,” I would joke.
“Who says so? I am as fit as a fiddle. Besides, if I am growing old, so are you, Missy,” he would tease me and pull me closer to dance with him.
We’ve celebrated our birthdays together in school; we were partners-in-crime in college. And then, we bonded over Frank Sinatra’s soulful songs in our young adulthood. We fell head over heels in love and danced to Strangers in the night. We married young and became life partners.
The sound of the cooker whistle broke my reverie.
“Have you bought groceries from the supermarket?” I asked him.
“Not yet. I am still dusting the sofa,” he answered.
Half-an-hour later, I peeped into the room to remind him. He was staring blankly outside the window.
I went from behind and tapped him on the shoulder. Startled, he muttered, “Yes, yes. I am going to the market right away.”
A few minutes later, I found him standing in front of the gate, lost. With a childlike innocence on his face, he hesitantly came back and asked, “Should I take the road on the right or the left?”
We have lived in this neighbourhood all our life. Not a day in these many years had he lost his way. Something seemed awry. An array of doctors and a battery of tests confirmed that it was a clear case of Alzheimer’s. The disease was progressively gnawing into my husband’s brain cells. I was devastated.
A few months later, he walked to me and asked me who I was. All I could do was look deep into his big brown eyes, forgive him and pray that he would not give up. Choking with tears, I locked myself in my room and cried my eyes out. I could not bear to see the love of my life forget me.
Some days, I felt sad and helpless and on others, I was a lone fighter, determined to save his memory. My heart ached every time he woke up in the morning and struggled to remember who I was. But over time, I was turning into a mute spectator. I was learning to accept the grim reality.
On our 35th wedding anniversary, I was getting ready to go to the temple and I turned on the radio. He suddenly came up to me with a look of admiration in his eyes. He said, “Missy, you look beautiful. Shall we dance?”
I was surprised. He remembered my pet name! I’ve always loved the way he called me Missy. It was so full of love. Eyes brimming with tears, I hugged him tight.
“Forever, always,” he whispered in my ears as Sinatra crooned on the radio.
Strangers in the night, exchanging glances
Wond’ring in the night; what were the chances
We’d be sharing love before the night was through