One of the most frequent questions any of us answer nearly every day is “How are you?” Since only a handful of people know that I’m a bald, fat man on a short leash, I clench my teeth, pretend a smile and say something utterly 70’s-ish, “Groovy.” The days could be like today, near frigid conditions, blizzard, the roads suck, and bleeding from a hemorrhoid. But damn it, I still say, “Groovy.” If I want to add sarcasm, I might add ‘F***’n’ just before ‘groovy.’
Comedian Kelly Monteith performed a comedy routine back in the 80’s exploring acknowledgment while clueless.
“Hey, how are you doing?”
“Dude. Management is there now saying you’re F****d.”
“That’s nice. Thank you.”
Life as a terminally ill person has reflective qualities. As mentioned in previous posts, since I often considered myself a medical marvel for making it this far, I never once placed myself in another’s shoe. For instance, I never put myself in Karen Ann’s shoes. I never once considered how she may have tried desperately to save the image of my face within her soul. Did I ever once feel her fear – the fear of a life without her soulmate?
I don’t know if she had such fears. Maybe she didn’t. What’s important is I thought about it. I was only concerned for myself. At the time of our separation, I never thought I could be branded, in that one person could intoxicate another’s soul with her smile, her laughter, and easy conversation. I see only because she’s gone.
Time robs of our mind’s ability to see those many precious details. And for better or worse, it was my selfishness that denied our marriage the grace to remain in love. If I could relive them and exalt to God, “Thank you,” I would. But time affords no man such opportunities. Travels removed such purity. “I need you to investigate a situation in South Africa,” my boss would state. “Thank you, sir,” and off I went. I sacrificed love’s intensity throughout thousands upon thousands of miles. They became unmemorized and banished forever. Sure enough, one day, I awoke and remembered nothing. I took her for granted.
Not once has it ever occurred to me that she wouldn’t be here. Never. The amnesia of one day after another spread to weeks, months, years, and decades. I only thought of her when she suddenly wasn’t here. Only then did I snap from my tale of woe. I wanted to scream unto God, “Wait. I wasn’t ready.”
I don’t recall thanking God for the time I received. Maybe I did, but I cannot remember it. Asking me to remember a second sends me to Hades in shame. It’s hard to comprehend all those moments of life and love, filling each new day with new experiences and emotions that I seemingly forgot to embed into my memories. Not that she’s dead, I’ve been able to list an easy 100 or so. Thank you, God, for allowing me to remember. Thank you not for burying me in shame.
Sad to say that I’ve been so busy living life and preparing for my death that I forgot any notion of her dying. Thank you, God, for demonstrating my inherently weak and incapability of care. Or is it, “Thank you not?” When Karen died, it became clear that the substitutes I chased could never duplicate her hug, or an eye-contact, her laughter or kiss. After ten years of marriage, I failed to see the love. At 61, I wish I had it back.