It’s a little after noon on Sunday afternoon. Ralph is in the bedroom “resting.” He woke up at eight and we drank coffee until nine so his morning was not exactly demanding. But we are scheduled to meet friends at the movies at 2.
Resting at length in preparation for any out-of-the-ordinary activity has become the norm. He rests all morning the day he takes his art class. He rests most of the day before we go out for dinner. He does not attach his need to conserve his energy to his cognitive issues—well, he doesn’t attach any of his behavior to his cognitive issues, but I think the resting has to do with controlling his anxiety more than a physical need.
And if it works, great. I certainly don’t fault him for needing to rest for whatever reason. But I am also aware that his need for rest affects my own in ways I don’t like exploring too carefully. Am I as energetic as I could be or am I using his lack of energy as an excuse to be less vigorous in my pursuits as well? When he goes to sleep at eight, I often stay up alone for hours wasting my time on bad television or online robot bridge, telling myself my brain is too taxed to read—it’s not. If I don’t work on revising my novel when he is resting, I tell myself I can’t concentrate because he is in the next room. It is so easy to follow his time line and energy line, to drop down a notch or two on the activity scale. It is a dangerous slope.
Partners in a long marriage either grow together or apart. Given our particular marriage’s ups and downs, it’s a pleasant surprise that Ralph’s Early Alzheimer’s has brought us together in many ways. But I need to be careful. His cognitive failings dominate much of our marriage; I need to be sure not to use him now to let things that matter slide, to avoid the sometimes difficult choice to live my life to its fullest.