Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Is It Better?

Tears keep welling up in my eyes. The same tears you find dripping down your cheeks at a sad movie. On occasion, I’ve had these tears for a couple at my church. Today the tears were at her funeral.

They both have a disability, special needs. When they were young, he went to her family and convinced them that he could take care of her. Together they could have a life. He would work, pay rent, get food, buy clothes, and have medical care. At first they wouldn’t let him marry her but they finally agreed.

For 22 years he has been completely and totally devoted to her. He often would do the speaking but her eyes were always bright and she would say a few words. After awhile, she would seek me out and have a good conversational question, one woman to another. She seemed proud to be able to do that and she would surprise me. They always made a fuss over our boys and would carefully remember and repeat their names. We heard stories of how it was when they were young. You could tell how much their parents meant to them.

He would always explain how they were taking care of all the details in their lives and even going out for entertainment, a full life. He lived to take care of her, just as he promised he would do.

When he mentioned her cancer, my first thought was that God couldn’t possibly take her from him. I couldn’t get past how absolutely cruel it would be for her to die. He would recount all the details from the doctor. He always knew exactly when the next appointment would be. Upon questioning, the facts didn’t sound good. It seemed serious but he convinced us that she would be fine. As he put his arm around her, you could tell that she believed him, so I did too. She went into remission.

The cancer came back. She wasn’t able to work and he had retired to take care of her. On one of my runs through the neighborhood, they were coming out of the church. I stopped briefly as she waited with a walker. I didn’t understand exactly what was happening to her, but thought it must be something else.

On Sunday we learned she was gone. Today he was so deeply sad, so slumped. Perhaps this is a breaking point for me. Another long-time couple ripped apart.

After my father died I thought I would be stronger in hospitals, as if I had built up immunity to the sadness. Shortly thereafter I went to visit my boyfriend’s grandmother in the hospital. Luckily she decided that she didn’t want to meet me in her condition because I was down at the end of a hallway by a window unable to handle the situation. I never met her.

About ten pages into a philosophy paper in college, I realized I had picked the wrong premise. I couldn’t crank out a paper supporting the statement “It is better to have loved and lost.”

On days like today, I still don’t know if I could.

No comments:

Post a Comment