TC is one of three participants in this aphasia specific treatment program. Although we are the only Americans and quite a bit younger than the others, I never imagined we would have so much in common with the other participants. It hadn’t occurred to me until now that TC has never met another person with aphasia,; nor have I spent extensive time with other caregivers in quite the same boat. We have only known the group for a few days, yet spending time with other couples in our situation already feels like throwing on a pair of sweatpants after a big fancy meal out on the town. You can let it all hang out when you’re with people like yourselves. There is no judgment or secret cringing when someone at the table can’t finish their sentence or when someone makes a slightly confusing remark. Everyone laughs it off because everyone knows exactly how it feels. I don’t need to protect TC in this company. He can be himself, make mistakes, and just relax. And because he is safe in this situation, I can relax as well, a feeling that’s become almost foreign to me after all these months.
Beyond the hours of individual and group speech therapy that TC receives each day, we also participate in couples’ activities. The first of these was the “dream it up” collage we were asked to create together. For months I have tried to remain hopeful about the situation while quietly suppressing some of the hopes and dreams I’ve feared were too unrealistic or unattainable. For an hour as we worked on this collage, however, I shut off my inner realist and indulged with TC in creating a vision of our future life. We had such fun cutting out photos from magazines and debating happily about where to place them. The activity highlighted how truly absent this type of light heartedness has been from our recent interactions. For the first time in a long time, it was simply TC and Abby in a room. Not TC, Abby, and the Brain Injury.
We continued our fun over the weekend taking in the Halifax Seaport Market, an enormous indoor farmer’s market with vendors selling everything from Canadian wine to the freshest veggies I’ve ever seen. We hit the gym, watched movies, and for Mother’s Day TC treated me to an amazing feast at one of the city’s best restaurants. Admittedly, I haven’t gotten much writing done yet, but I am basking in my newfound freedom and rediscovering the joy of sleeping in past 8AM.
We both agree that coming to Halifax is the absolute best thing we could have done for ourselves. Not only do we have a chance to put distance between ourselves and all of the madness that led us here, we have an opportunity to really focus on getting better. We are surrounded by a team of brilliant and loving therapists and we have found the space to breathe and reboot. For the first time, those dreams of a brighter future are finally within reach.