Anywhere in Sickness
Monsters in the closet and under the bed
Monsters can lurk almost anywhere
Anywhere we imagine them with our fears
Anywhere in the body where they can grow rampant
Rampant cells divide and multiply and divide again
Rampant growth consuming what was healthy and strong
Strong as his body and strong as our mature love
Love that slew every monster that came
Love that wrapped us in armor of everyday magic
Magic that put wonder into simple things
Magic we counted on in our darkest days
Days with little money and worries to spare
Days when rainbows and birdsong filled our lives
Lives shared with happiness and sometimes frustration
Lives made richer when we two became one
One home one bed one path tread by four feet
One purpose in the life we shared
Shared coffee and meals and arguments and joys
Shared a little more than two decades
Decades more we thought we’d have
Decades to grow even and ever more
More life and more business to attend to
More tears to shed and living to do
Do the things needed to raise our kids well
Do what we needed to embrace our own dreams
Dreams postponed while the kids were small
Dreams that were taking on more concrete shape
Shape of a future we never will live
Shape of a tumor-monster that killed
Killed my husband of twenty years
Killed my children’s loving silly dad
Dad and husband strong and solid
Dad snuffed out by that greedy cancer
Cancer ever hungry could never get enough
Cancer swelled and sucked away energy
Energy and strength all given to the monster
Energy gone and marriage metamorphized
Metamorphized as the cancer metastasized
Metastasized from pancreas to liver
Metastasized with deadly speed
Speed of the change from being his partner
Speed of the change to become caretaker
Caretaker a job that I never expected
Caretaker a function I served as my honor
Honor the vow I took twenty long years ago
Honor the vow of in health and in sickness
Sickness that made of him a man in grave need
Sickness tended my final wifely service
I actually wrote this poem early in the day, but then had plans that kept me away most of the rest of the day. Now, though I’m feeling so tired it’s hard to type, I’m here, because I’ve made it before midnight all week, and don’t want to blow the streak…
Marriage changes when a spouse is terminally ill. The growing infirmity shifts the partnership relationship to one of caretaker and tended. When the disease progresses as swiftly as Jim’s did, the changes can come at a truly dizzying pace.
It was exhausting, often frustrating, and consumed my time much like caring for a newborn in reverse. It became, in the last couple of weeks, almost impossible to know how my days would pass. Things we’d thought, in the beginning, we’d be able to see to together, became things I’m still dealing with three months after his death.
There were times I sobbed in sheer hopelessness at all the things that needed my attention, and the grinding fatigue as they piled up, no matter how much effort I expended…I was also angry with him, sometimes, for the things he might have done when he was well, but didn’t, even when I asked.
Maybe it was a form of grieving, and of dealing with the monster growing unchecked in my beloved’s vital organs.
But, through it all, I was honored to be able to do this for him, however imperfectly. I knew it was the last service I could do for him directly, and, after all, I didn’t promise to just be with him when things were good and he could do for himself…but in sickness, as well as health, to death did us part.
This post does double-duty for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday post, where the prompt is “mon” as a word or part of one. You can find more SoCS posts here.
And come on back Monday, when we experience No More of So Much….
The journey of a marriage, in one poignant song. I’ve loved it for years, but now it has new meaning…