At the weekend I went to a party with some friends and I met the most amazing couple. Strangely I thought I’d met the woman before but she swore we had never met.
She turned out to be with her husband and within a moment I registered that there was something unusual about them. He first appeared completely normal, in his fifties I’d say, she perhaps ten years younger, both of them quite attractive. However, when he spoke he sounded drunk, slurring his words slightly. Not too much but enough to be noticeable.
I’ve had a lot of contact with people with learning disabilities over the years as my sister has cerebral palsy. Not all the conditions I’ve encountered are the same and most of them are whole life conditions rather than acquired later in life. However, I can tell the difference between someone who is drunk and someone who has a disability.
It was fairly obvious that he didn’t have learning disabilities and I figured out quite quickly that he had some sort of brain injury, a stroke perhaps. Her manner towards him was very caring and patient and she was obviously thinking of his needs as well as her own; she ensured he had a drink, that they both had food, etc, rather than just fending for herself. She might have exhibited a very occasional indication of slight impatience which was a shame.
They must have been around for an hour or so, mixing and circulating, when she mentioned in passing, that he had an injury from an accident. A quite bad accident she added, before quickly moving on in the general chit chat. I read this to mean that she was explaining his speech impediment and making sure that we didn’t think that he was drunk. Now bear in mind that at all times he was completely alert, awake and lively and the only thing you might notice was when he spoke. But at this moment he bowed his head for a few seconds sitting there as he looked at the ground.
The comment seemed totally unnecessary. Perhaps some people might misinterpret his speech impediment negatively but fuck em! Here was a couple that had obviously gone through the most horrendous experience. Their relationship must have been tested to destruction however, they are still together.
I felt like saying, ‘That’s okay, you don’t have to explain, life can be really shit, for some people much more than others, but you don’t have to explain.’ Of course I didn’t say anything.
We only have one life, at least I believe so, and in a more secular world that view has implications that often play out in the form of selfishness. It’s just great to see two people that, despite the challenges, have stuck to each other (her in particular) when they might have split up hoping for something better. I don’t know what I would have done.
I’d like to believe that they were so in love before his accident that their love has sustained them. A more cynical perspective might wonder if he has an enormous amount of money or that his injury has not affected his ability to be the world’s greatest lover or the world’s greatest chef. On the other hand it may be the case that despite his injury the only affect on him is his speech and that he is undamaged apart from that, but from the way she took him by the had and led him away when they left, I suspect not.
Hopefully they still have enough between them to keep it going.
Nice post. In long relationships, “in love” hopefully transmutes to “love” which is based more on loyalty and respect, than on what “benefits” someone brings us….am hoping that was the case with this couple. Suppose it wasn't possible that she explained his situation in order to spare him the embarrassment of either trying to verbalise it himself, or to have to sit there wondering whether people thought he was an idiot, or drunk?