Continued from Intro - Page One
The doctor handed me a box of tissues and then looked at George. “Dr. Weinstein, you are going to have to close your practice.”
George shook his head and said, “No. I’m not going to do that.”
The doctor’s voice became stern. “Dr. Weinstein. You have a serious problem and you must not see patients anymore.”
I wanted to tell him to shut up … just shut up. Who did he think he was talking to?
“No. I won’t do that,” George said.
“Dr. Weinstein ... I don’t want to have to ...”
I couldn’t take another minute of his badgering. Did the brilliant neurologist think that George was going to agree to give up a career of forty-five years because he asked him to? Did he not, just a moment before, say that George couldn’t understand any of this?
“Stop it, doctor.” I was abrupt, bordering on rude. ”It isn’t going to happen here. I’ll take care of it.”
“Mrs. Weinstein. He must!”
“Yes, I KNOW!“ I didn’t want to be nasty. But I was hanging on by my eyelashes. “I said I’d take care of it.”
“Please ... immediately.” The doctor wouldn’t let it go. “And also ... your husband should not be driving anymore.”
That, too. Of course the doctor was right. Bit by bit the world was falling in around us, though George seemed hardly to notice.
“All right, then. Do you have any other questions?” the doctor said.
I shook my head no.
“Well, then, I’ll see you back in a year.” He stood and pulled the MRI from the screen, slid it into its envelope and handed it to me. He shook George’s hand as if they were colleagues who had just discussed a patient. Then he shook my hand.
“Goodbye, doctor. Thank you.” I said, which I wondered about later. Courtesy aside, what in the world was I thankful for? For learning the horrible truth of a cruel disease that had already begun to take away the man I had known and loved for most of my life? For telling me, without telling me, that my husband and I would not walk together into the orange sunset of our years? That George would soon forget his entire life, his stellar career, our children, and me? And that I would be left to remember as I faced the rest of my life alone?
When George and I were out in the hallway, he reached for my hand. I looked at him and tried to imagine the effect the doctor’s words had had on him. But, true to what I had just been told about the disease and the emotional disconnection it brought, George turned to me and said, “So, where do you want to go for dinner?”
If I had ever felt alone, it paled by comparison to what I was feeling as we entered the elevator. Panic and shock made me dry-mouthed as we exited the Clinic and walked to our car, the click of my heels echoing in the cavernous parking garage. How could this happen? How could such a brilliant man fall prey to a brain-wasting disease? My husband, who had spent his life in service to his patients, who cared so much for their well-being, would soon be in need of the ultimate in care himself. Why? Why? Why? And would I be able to care for him? What about money? How much did we have? How much did we owe? And, if there came a time when I could not care for him, where would he go? Where would I go? I already knew in dreadful detail what was going to happen to him. But what would happen to me without him?
“I’ll drive. You take a little rest,” I said, expecting protest. George never liked the way I drive.
“Okay,” he said.
My hand shook as I put the key in the ignition. I looked over at George. In that instant, I saw in my handsome, gray-haired husband, already deeply compromised by his brain disease, the seventeen-year-old boy with dark green eyes, home from college to take me on our first date. I was fifteen, in a brand-new white linen dress, my first pair of high heels, and a purse borrowed from my mother. A nervous and excited teenager, I glanced at his elegant profile as he put his hands on the steering wheel of his father’s white Chevrolet and said to me, “So, where do you want to go for dinner?”
The wonder and promise of that long-ago night faded. I put my head down on the steering wheel and sobbed. George touched my arm and, momentarily, I believed he was trying to comfort me. I turned to look at him. “So, where are we going for dinner?” he said.
I started the car, drove out of the garage and into a prophetically sudden rainstorm. A new chapter had begun for both of us, in separate books still to be written.