David spends much of the day sitting on the couch, legs crossed at the knees, hands in his lap, with a calm, contemplative air about him. Sometimes he gets up and walks laps around the long center island in our kitchen. He moves slowly with his head bowed, reminding me of a Zen monk engrossed in walking meditation. Perhaps he was a monk in a previous life, bringing the karma of a guru to this one. I feel like he’s been guiding me how to live a life of acceptance.
Most days David is physically drained. I never know if I’ll be able to get him out of the house. He’s either sleeping or lethargic from medication or a night of seizures. Though it can be frustrating to be stuck inside, I’ve learned to be flexible and to hold all plans loosely. Sometimes David is unable to tolerate loud sounds or the energy of others. When we are out on those days, we might need to cut our trip short to return to the quiet of our home. I’ve learned to face disappointment and let go of expectations.
Most of our outings are to our neighborhood parks where David walks slowly and stops to sit on benches along the way. I’d much rather walk at a brisk pace and get some exercise but David forces me to slow down. His pace gives me the opportunity to be more mindful of my surroundings and my inner world as well.
I choose to be David’s primary caregiver, yet I often feel trapped and isolated when I don’t have enough help to get out of the house and do things I’d like to do. At these times, I sit next to David and close my eyes. It isn’t easy to witness my internal turmoil, but I try to follow the teachings of my Silent Buddha: face what is, let go of needing things to be different, and trust the mystery of it all.