10,000 Moments

Jan and Howard El Camino Real NM

I want to tell you about 10,000 moments. But I’m not sure how.

Each moment by itself would be too small to see. Too fleeting. Like snow flakes on the lawn. How could one moment be singled out for description, made more special than the others, emblematic? It wouldn’t do justice to the whole.

But to describe 10,000 moments skims over what each moment meant, the choice that was offered each time and the decision  that was made each time. Without fail. Day after day. Year after year.

In the face of my increasing hearing loss in the past few years, my husband made the choice to be kind.

He was kind when he had to repeat himself dozens of times in a day. He was kind when we had to stop having our regular daytime phone conversations. He was kind when I misunderstood what other people said and embarrassed him. He was kind when my frustration blew the top off the house. He was kind when other people would have put their head in their hands and just given up.

He took sign language classes with me and then concocted his own sign language just for us. He’d sign across a room, signaling, could I hear? do you want to leave? He’d run interference for me with sales people in stores, doctors’ offices, anyone who insisted on a phone call.

He would interpret for me, restating what people whose voices were in the wrong range for me to hear said. He’d keep an eye on me all the time to see if I was getting it or not. “Did you get that?” his eyes would ask.  Sometimes, when I did, I’d snap at him. “It’s not so easy knowing what you can and can’t hear,” he’d say, explaining himself but never really getting mad.

And throughout, he insisted that there was no reason I should stop working, no call to close my business. I’d complain about the difficulty of working with groups and he’d act surprised that I couldn’t handle it, knowing that indulging my self-doubt would  only deepen it. He knew that my work was part of my core. Leaving it would be a big defeat, a terrible loss, the beginning of my disappearance.

Once, when we did argue about hearing, I told him that he had no idea how hard it was to deal with hearing loss. Oh, he said back, you have no idea how hard it is to be married to someone with hearing loss. I always wanted to think my frustration trumped his. Now, with my cochlear implant bringing better hearing every day, I am not so sure. His burden, the weight of my hearing loss on him, was way bigger than I ever wanted to think.

I know this to be true as I reflect back over the past few, very hard years. I would not have survived the isolation and self-doubt that comes from hearing loss without my husband. It’s that simple.

My husband saved me.

At night, in the dark, before I go to sleep, I always tell my husband that I love him. “I love you,” I say, even though without my hearing aid and cochlear implant receiver – all my various pieces of equipment – I cannot really hear myself talk. But he hears me. But instead of answering back, because he knows I can’t hear him, he taps my arm.

Tap tap tap, tap.






14 Comments on “10,000 Moments

  1. You touched a nerve when I read this this morning. My father had significant hearing loss and I experienced his frustration and our family’s frustration too. You have a wonderful partner and it is a great thing to know that and appreciate it. Peace be with you.

  2. You and your husband are a wonder to resilience in the face of life challenges. Loved the read. My daughter is also going through hearing challenges. She is in her first year of Social Work as an adult student and has major difficulties with participating in group discussion because of hearing loss. One ear is worse than the other. (45 in one and 20 in the other) We just went for a revisit to her specialist today. She had researched on-line that there was such a thing as eustachian tube surgery, but her hopes were dashed. She cried beside me with lost hope. 🙁

    • Keep looking for answers. Hearing aids now are remarkable and can do so much to less the difficulty. I have a cochlear implant which is a treatment for certain types of hearing loss. Don’t give up!

  3. Pingback: Two a Day #27: 10,000 Moments – Red's Wrap

  4. How beautiful this is. I recognize that fleeting frustration—it’s not your difficult, it’s mine—only to step back and marvel at how greatly my husband has risen to the occasion. So sorry about the hearing loss, so glad to read about the cochlear implant.

  5. I read this last night, after my big family dinner. The one where I watched my Aunt learning to be Someone Who Has MS and my Uncle learning how to be the husband of Someone Who Has MS. Thank you for reminding me that for all the ‘this isn’t fair’ moments and the outright ‘this sucks monkey-balls’ moments, how many of the moments marked the ways they’ve become stronger – together.

  6. Merry Christmas, Jan. Another similarity between us – we both picked really good men. What a blessing.

  7. Yet again, the simple beauty of your writing brings me to tears. What a wonderful love story!

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