Douglas Winslow Cooper
My wife, Tina, and I no longer sleep in the same bed together overnight, as we had been pleased to do for most of the first two decades of our marriage. We stopped in 2004 when she came home from the Critical Care Unit, quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent due to her multiple sclerosis.
She shares her bed with an alternating-pressure air mattress, her ventilator tubing, and a Teddy bear and is awakened once or twice each night for medications and ministrations.
Her bed is a hospital bed, and I slept there uncomfortably one year when we had no overnight nursing, but it is narrow and her care and my sometime insomnia have made sharing the bed overnight impractical. It is a loss we both felt, both commented on when it began, both have almost gotten used to now.
Last evening, for a half an hour, we cuddled there. Turned on her right side and supported in that position, Tina could see me and speak to me easily as I lay beside her. We chatted a bit and reassured each other, as we often do. We listened to romantic music given to us for Valentine’s Day, the forty-ninth anniversary of our falling in love. She fell asleep briefly, as I held her hand.
She awoke. I got up. We agreed to do it all over again tonight, if we can.
Life and love are precious. Carpe diem! Seize the day! Seize the evenings, too, while you still have them.
Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., a retired environmental physicist, lives in southern New York State with his beloved wife, Tina Su Cooper, a former editor at the Encyclopedia Britannica and mother of two. Tina was first diagnosed with MS in 1981 at the age of 37, and she has been quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent at home for almost eight years. Tina is the central figure in Dr. Cooper’s book, Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion, available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or their website, tingandi.com.