TC and I are a very different couple than we were on May 4th, the day we got in the car and began our Canadian road trip. Simply put, life is a little easier now. The vast improvement in TC's speech is partly to thank, but there's so much more to it. Getting away from home allowed us the time and space we needed to get comfortable in our new dynamic. We'll never have the same relationship we did before. We can't quite read each other's minds as well, nor foresee each other's needs as effectively. We're different people, changed by a experience that deeply shook the core of our identities. The work of rebuilding applies as much to our marriage as it does to TC's physical being. It's ongoing and it's challenging. It's a commitment we reaffirm ourselves to each day.
In Halifax, I got a chance to put myself first: to leave therapy to the therapists and think seriously about my writing. I began the daunting task of writing a memoir and have found joy in imagining a future that, in some ways, is more authentic and promising than the one I had been planning for. After nearly a year of back breaking, exhausting work, I needed this deliciously selfish experience to restore myself for the work ahead. I truly believe the program has been as therapeutic for me as it's been for TC.
Perhaps the greatest gift we've been given, however, are the new people in our lives. It feels impersonal to call the crew at InteRACT "therapists" because our relationship is so much more meaningful. They have laughed with us, cried with us, motivated us, and inspired us to keep believing in better days ahead. Without judgment, they have witnessed us bicker, overcome miscommunication, and struggle with the deep mourning we feel for our former life. The work they do is so important. Living with aphasia doesn't always feel like a life at all, but the team here has taught us that life does indeed go on - one day at a time.
Before coming to Canada, we had never met another person with aphasia. Being isolated in our daily struggles with communication and recovery made it easy to feel as if we were the only people who had ever suffered in this way. But that notion couldn't be further from the truth. In Halifax we have met the bravest, hardest working people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. People whose lives, like ours, were suddenly and unfairly upturned; people who work all day, everyday just to get back the things the rest of us take for granted. They too know what it's like to want more from life and to feel cruelly singled out by the universe. Still, they go on. They refuse to submit themselves to anger and depression. They fight back, even when the results are painstakingly slow. It is a true honor to be in their company and I say goodbye knowing I have been greatly enriched by their stories and dedication.
I hope that we'll return to Halifax before too long. Our chapter in Canada has been an important part of the journey leading us back to our lives and I'll forever hold the experience close to my heart. And in three weeks, I look forward to greeting TC with open arms - ready to witness his progress and begin a new chapter together back at home.