Loving Partners, THE Main Event of Life
My wife and I are going through a very difficult time. She is diagnosed with a brain tumor that, at the moment, has not been identified as to grade or stage. Put succinctly, she may live from a few months to twenty or more years, but at this time we do not know the prognosis. The pathologists and then the oncologists need to "do their thing" with the biopsy samples just obtained. Then various treatments will follow to kill the cancer or other unwanted cells to help for as long as they can successfully hold the growths at bay.
We do not and cannot know exactly what lies ahead. What we do know is just how quickly our assumptions about longevity and our being a couple ready to enjoy retirement have been assaulted. We have to face the reality of our own limitations to control our life, while maintaining a loyal and aggressive determination to wring every last moment of quality from life for us.
Fear and bravery, loyalty and invariant commitment, these are the feelings that replace the earlier comfortable view of life. Hope for effective medical treatment and the joy of each other’s company and the loving company of family and friends represent the high points. Depression and a sense of being cheated are two of the low points. Contemplating not having her every day to be there as my very best friend and my guide and my lover is the worst part of all. You see, this writing is not about physical health issues. It is learning about who loves you and how important that love is compared to all other valuable and meaningful life experiences and the near countless people we meet in the course of day to day living. The health issues are simply an unavoidable reminder of our finite nature and of the temporariness of any of many life relationships we might form.
It is more than scary when we are forced to shift from feeling immortal to feeling precariously close to loneliness and death. And unlike foolish moments in our youth when our mistakes might have cost us our lives in a few seconds, the reality of the moment is watching the big clock ticking away precious life. It is not knowing how many ticks are left, but only that they are suddenly most likely far less than what we expected. So now we are circling the wagons to defend our very life together from the savages of fate.
We will do as well as anyone could under adverse circumstances. Why? The answer is pretty simple. We long ago learned that our love has more than stood the test of fire and all other things that might have diminished or destroyed us. We are indeed a loving partnership, and so shall we be until death. It is that knowledge that is so important now. And it would not matter which of us might be in physical difficulty. So it is that I write now to those who may not yet understand how deeply one should love and care about their life partner.
Much is said about blood being thicker than water. Too much is written about childbirth and mothering superceding all else as the real meaning of a woman’s life. Mostly, the various writers are too anxious to extol the virtues of Mom or Dad or brothers or sisters or the very awe of having new life. Most fail to consider how short the time is between childbirth and watching that child leave as a young adult. Too few … none as I recall … ever write about the forty years or more those two people are likely to share together without having children at home. Those years, before and after childbearing and childrearing, far exceed in number all other chapters of life. But I wonder how many couples consider the quality of their relationship independent of their parents, children or grandchildren … especially during the stressful years of careers and raising a family?
Grandparents, no matter how loving, die. Parents, no matter how loving, die. Children leave to form their own lifelong love relationships and raise their own families, and so they should. But what about us as couples once our children have grown and gone? What, particularly, will two people do to and for each other constantly so that the years they might have to spend together again as a couple without children at home will be great years? What bed do we create to make life with each other after childrearing truly precious? Do we grow together?
Sooner or later virtually all of us learn that careers are simply jobs. They put food on the table and allow for some excitement, pride, fun and saving for the day when jobs are no more. You do understand that I am talking about that time of life when we are tired of working and our employers no longer want us. Guess what is left? Time truly with or mostly without each other … and that can be heaven or hell.
That which you invested in each other at the most personal level during your earlier years is exactly what is left. If you looked to each other and took care of each other as the bedrock of life and love then you are oh so ready to reap a most wonderful reward. If instead you only tolerated each other in the pursuit of selfish interests then you have high potential for low joy and little caring in your declining years.
So which will it be? Will you live a life of deep caring for your partner even through the anger, frustrations and disappointments we all experience as we live with each other? Will you respect your partner deeply even when you totally disagree with his/her conclusions, knowing that all of us have better and worse times in our lives and in our judgments? Will you both know deep inside that no matter what you will be there for each other?
I hope your answers turn out to be yes. Ours are. We are in a most scary place at this time, but our feelings for each other are deep and unshakeable. We are together in every way until death does indeed make us part. And I can tell you with total belief that whichever of us dies first the memories the other will have will be very, very good and lasting.
So let my thoughts help you while you have time to build lasting strength and deep love into your marriage, apart from economics, children and parties. Remind yourself often about who is in fact your very best friend. If either of you fall short then do everything you can to try to understand the high price to be paid in your future. Then change your ways as appropriate.
Now you can tell me why I would choose a time like now to share with you my deep love for my wife. Think about it.