I have a mental picture of Anthony in my head. It was Feb 1st, 2015, almost two years ago exactly. He was wearing his dark green t shirt and blue checkered pj pants. We were separated at the time, but I was hopeful he would return home to us.
He came for the week to stay with us, get the house ready to sell, and go out with the kids and I for dinner on my birthday.
We were struggling with saying goodbye to our home, for me, it symbolized the end of what once was a beautiful marriage. The home we built, renovated and created together with our children. We scraped wall paper, painted, built a fence, started landscaping the yard, and made it our own. Yes, there were many arguments, a lot of sweat and tears, but there were successes, wonderful memories and it was the sanctuary we created together, with love.
The decision to sell was not easy, but I felt we had no choice. Separated or not, it was too much work for us, and too much stress on him. The illness rendered him unable to work at the time leaving the much needed renovations to the kitchen and bathroom somewhat unattainable.
Though he was still taking his lithium, he had quit taking his anti-depressants cold turkey(unbeknownst to me) and he was still not himself. His use of an illy prescribed medical marijuana card rendered the lithium useless. He was in and out of lucidity but at the time he was at the house he hadn’t smoked it in over a week. We were getting along better than we had in months though he wasn’t the same, I still loved him, and I had hoped he wouldn’t go back to smoking. I hoped we would resume our lives together and work together towards recovery.
The day we spoke with the realtor, the reality of dissolution of our marriage dawned on me. He would be leaving at the end of the week and I would once again be left with the upkeep of the home, taking care of the children, paying all the bills and now making sure the house was ready for showings. All of this on top of having to say goodbye to my husband again, knowing our relationship would not likely survive much longer. Despite my being able to hide my pain in front of Anthony the days before while he was down visiting, I couldn’t keep it in any longer. I cried in front of the realtor. I broke.
The next morning was my 33rd birthday. We had planned dinner with the children that evening and I would be meeting with friends later on. When I woke that morning, I found him standing over my bed, holding a fresh cup of coffee as he had so many mornings before; before bipolar, before the arguing, before all of the stress and chaos, before ECT and family separations. I loved those moments in the morning that were brief, but they were just for us. They were our quick escape before the kids woke and the hustle and bustle of the day began.
“There he is” I thought, “there is my husband”.
” I couldn’t afford to get you a gift this year. I hope this will do”. His green eyes matched the color of his dark green shirt. He had a smile on his face that warmed my heart and I felt a wave of hope wash over my body. Maybe, we can survive this. Maybe, bipolar won’t destroy us. Maybe he’ll decide to stay. I remember just staring at him, taking in the moment, the feeling of hope, the aroma of the the coffee and his cologne, his green eyes fixed on me and dimples denting the sides of his smile. At the time I knew I had to mentally record this moment because in a quick second the disorder could take over again.
“This is the best gift you could have ever gotten me, Thank you”. The coffee was sweet with creamer, just as I liked it. He stood for a moment longer, and I watched him turn to leave the room and walk away to let me get up and ready for the day. I wanted to freeze that moment. I don’t know if he knew how much that cup of coffee meant to me, or how much all the previous coffees meant. They were one of my most treasured moments of the day.
Next week is my 35th birthday. The second birthday I will spend away from him, and the first one where he is no longer here in body. My 34th birthday was spent mostly alone, worrying about him and feeling helpless as to how to get him help. I met up with a small but close group of friends that evening for drinks and tried to make the best of it. The kids and I had gone for dinner. I just had to keep moving forward.
Just like I have to keep moving forward now.
I really really miss those mornings and that coffee. As painful as it is to have to do those coffees alone, especially on my birthday, I am however, forever grateful for the nearly 12 wonderful years that I got to share those coffees with him.