I'd say it was a life-changing experience. I realized that we are not guaranteed happily ever after. It can change in a heartbeat - or a lack of one. To that end, we've had a busy year full of learning.
- I was Art's advocate while he was in the hospital. I listened to the doctors as they discussed possible diagnoses and prescribed new medications. They took him off one medication and added two new ones. Pacemaker appointments were scheduled, and follow-up visits. We were in Tucson and our medical insurance carrier is in Seattle, so it was up to me to keep everyone informed. Until Art got used to his health regimen I was the reminder and the encourager. But after three months Art wanted to take over his own care. That was when I had a problem: how to let go of the responsibilities I'd taken on and trust Art to assume them. That phase was a bigger adjustment for me than for him.
- I wanted Art to take it easy. He wanted to live his life. I had to let him.
- We decided to stay in the States this year, to put off international travel until he had a year of recovery behind him. We took trips to Idaho, Maine, the Washington coast and Hawaii, and came to Arizona in December. On the first two trips my eye was on Art. On the latter three it wasn't. I had learned to trust his judgment.
- We bought the park model we'd rented in Tucson for two winters. I love the sun and Art loves the arthritis relief. There's no time like the present to plan for living.
- I joined the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church. I had learned the importance of a spiritual community.
- We invited family - my sister and her husband - to live indefinitely with us on our property. In a nurturing family, everybody wins.
- We planted a big garden and harvested strawberries and raspberries and blueberries and grapes and lettuce and spinach and radishes and beets and tomatoes. We watched a mother bird sit on her nest in our grape arbor and we watched the babies hatch and then we grieved when bigger birds found them. Life happened in our garden.
Yesterday we celebrated a year of Art's recovery with a trip to a Tucson nursery for a tomato start (a winter garden) and lunch with Arizona friends.
We are living a blessed life.