We're also linked with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday.
The word this week is FAMILY.
For me, childhood was a time to forget, and the whole experience made 'family' into something like an obscenity for me, and I am using that word very deliberately.
Flash forward to terminal illness in middle age, and that's causing some unexpected problems for my wife.
barbara came from a small but close-knit family in the midwest. Her mother died in 2013, but her father (who visited us two weeks ago) is going strong. She also has two younger brothers. Family is important to her, and there is a lot of emotional interdependence.
I'm the opposite. I'm emotionally restrained (did I hear someone say 'stunted'?) and extremely self-contained. I had to be; I learned early that there was no one to help me, and that any sign of weakness was something my enemies - my family - would exploit.
So now, in crisis, my reactions and needs are nothing like barbara would expect. Her mother was ill for a couple of years before dying and while she wasn't 'needy', she did rely on her family's emotional support, and she leaned into them for comfort...and they could lean into her in the apprehension of their coming loss.
They could cling to one another, and cry.
I can't do that. I can't even imagine doing that.
And Barbara feels helpless, and sometimes useless. In her eyes, I'm holding it in, not trusting her with my fears and hurts. I'm keeping her out of the inner circle.
What she doesn't understand, and thankfully, I think, can't understand is that there is no inner circle.
There's nothing to hold in. I'm dying, I don't want to, sometimes the physical manifestations are frightening, but there's nothing about which to weep. It's just life, and death.
She asks me what she can do, and I tell her, in conscious imitation of the rebooted Spock, "Please continue to perform admirably at work."
That is what's important to me.
She needs the job (and she does it so well that the company needs her). She doesn't just need it for the money; she needs it for the self-definition it provides and provided, that she could re-enter the workforce when I got too sick to work, and be a success.
It's not that I'm soulless and practical, at least, I don't think so.
It's just that I learned to be OK in a hard school, and I'm OK now. She can tend to herself.
I'm good to go.
(But I'd rather stay.)
Another tough one, and another very hard day. I wasn't sure I would be able to write tonight, but seeing the topic, I felt that I had to...this is important.
I don't know how many others there are like me, but I hope that maybe it will provide illumination that might ease, just a little, the heartache.