My mother’s husband of 30 plus years is dying. Another victim of cancer. Another one of thousands this year who will die of this epidemic disease. A victim of life.
My mother waits for the inevitable by his side. She cooks the meals he can no longer eat. She fetches him water he can no longer drink. She sits by his side in their home. She makes sure her husband doesn’t face death alone. She’s been strong.
He’s a lucky man.
Many days I feel it’s more than he deserves.
I’ve got 11 years of the matrimonial rollercoaster under my belt and my parents are still teaching me about marriage every month – every passing year. Marriage is an institution resting on the foundation of selflessness trying hard to survive in a hyper-selfish world. I still don’t know what binds two people together through the best laughs and deepest personal betrayals, but as more years go by the pattern I’m noticing is a choice of sacrifice.
The sacrifice of one’s pride and ego to exalt another human to their highest possible levels is necessary more years than not. And most of us suck at self sacrifice. We’re Americans. We’re humans. We’re in it for the self. We’ve apparently rolled like this for eons now.
He is no different I suppose. But because his selfishness directly impacts my mother and our family in such a drastic way, makes me uncharacteristically bitter. I have no words of comfort to offer. No false banter. No desire to connect. No forgiveness.
I have pity.
He won’t make it through the night. He can no longer speak. He moans at the pain. My mother holds his hand. He’s a lucky man.
After 30 years, my mother could have chosen to be anywhere but at his side and not one human soul would have blamed her. But she made a choice to be with someone ’til death do they part. It’s what a marriage is about.
Not facing death alone.
The crazy thing is I know we’re all guilty of violating loved one’s ill advised trust at one time or another. But I don’t feel it. And through the pain of this lucky man’s final hours of physical struggle, he has my mother at his side, and the plague of regret on his mind.
I wish him peace. We’ll never speak again.