When you look into his eyes

And he no longer sees you

But he needs you to make him breakfast

When you look into his eyes and he isn’t the only one

Who doesn’t remember how it used to be

When you look for his eyes and they are downcast

And filled with tears

And then hate because you forgot to order his medicine

When you reach into your mouth with both hands

To hold your tongue

This is when you are tested

What did you know of your vows when you made them?

Did you guess that his body would still be there

But his mind would fly away?

For better or for worse

Did anyone ever explain what worse could be?

Perhaps he would cheat on you—that would be worse

But you never imagined the loneliness of being next to someone who isn’t there

For richer or for poorer

Or that nursing care would gobble up your life’s work

and savings

in mere months

You thought dementia was about forgetting

Not anger

Not violence

Not shame

In good times and in bad

Or thought you’d give up your dreams as soon as you could realize them

For all the days of your life

And you remember that you chose him

above all others

because he was so kind.


4 thoughts on “When you look into his eyes

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