On Wednesday we talked about the grace that we sometimes have to extend, and accept, when we choose not to walk alone after burying a beloved spouse.
Please note that five letter word...after.
When your mate is in the death spiral of a terminal illness, you're caught in a cruel dichotomy. You live in a world that goes on, with businesslike good humor, and yet always at your elbow is the end of earthly life for the person you're closest to.
You have to go to work, and listen to colleagues complaining about the price of lattes...
...and then you have to go home and clean up blood and worse. (That's assuming you're not doing a vigil in a hospital.)
The two halves of life are hard to square, and some people have more trouble than others.
They start looking beyond that dark event horizon, for the new life that they'll have to walk.
And they start looking for someone to walk it with.
To a degree, I'm sympathetic. It's hard to remain in the moment of dying when you will survive it. In a way it may be the harder position to occupy. Dying's easy.
But the sympathy doesn't go far, because there are few crueler fates than to be trapped in a failing body, seeing the days unwind and seeing one's life without one's presence...and seeing a spouse making plans...let's be blunt...for one's replacement.
Excuses are tendered. "I don't know how to go on alone!"
"Do you want me to miss this chance at the love that will help me survive?"
And so on. I'd list more but it's getting nauseating.
Nauseating because marriage involves a promise. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.
There's nothing about true love, or not being able to cope. I guess we're supposed to suck it up and deal with it.
Deal with it, if only because of this-
One day it may be you in the position of thinking you'd better hurry up and die, because you're in the future's way.