Sometimes people say that I took care of Stephanie during her last years, and I guess I did so I don't argue. Sure, I drove her to doctor appointments and to picnics and the movies, pushed her wheelchair, and helped her with little things when she needed help. Big things too, sometimes.
It never felt like taking care of her, though. Never felt like a chore or anything. I helped her when I could because I could, so of course I helped.
As always since she left, Steph is in my dreams a lot, and usually she's not dead. She's just "been gone" — on an extended trip or a vacation or something — but in the dream she's back, and it's always a joy to see her again. Then I wake up sad, realizing again that she's not coming back.
Since moving to Seattle, I wake up sad in a strange new place. I'm taking care of myself here, and not good at it. Many things are annoying and/or difficult, and I wish I had a teammate again, someone at my side and on my side. Not just anyone, though. It's gotta be Stephanie. I'd much rather be alone than spent much time with anyone who's not her.
Something I've noticed over the past few dozen dreams of Stephanie is that in the dreams, she's basically taking care of me. She comes back, and it's great seeing her, and then she starts making things better, solving problems, taking charge. That's what she always did, and always she did it well.
In last night's dream the lease was up, and she had some things she wanted to negotiate with the landlord before signing us up for another year. In real life, there is no lease, just an informal month-to-month deal, and nothing was ever up for negotiation. So last night she solved a problem I don't even have, because hey, it's a dream and dreams are usually nonsense.
The part where she's solving problems, though — that was real. That was Stephanie. Even in her wheelchair years, maybe I pushed the chair, but she was always taking care of me. It was never me taking care of her.