I didn’t see it coming – my meltdown.
The barbecue began innocently enough. There were neighbours, family, friends. Everyone was gathering for the feast. I had established my “place” beside friends, hunkered down into my seat, and was ready to take on whatever the crowds may have brought.
Enter stage left: Martin.
Martin had been through cancer about a year prior to my treatments and so was the “veteran”. I knew he was having to go back for more radiation soon and so this news did not surprise me. He and I shared stories – not too many – but enough. The conversation, although intense, was still pretty light. How else could it be? Life is life and there is nothing you can do to change that.
“I am being fitted for another treatment tomorrow.” he said to me.
“Yes. They take measurements and get me all lined up first. I have another 16 (did he say?) treatments.”
(What does one say to that?)
“Sorry. I know how hard it is.” I offered to Martin.
Just about that time his wife came around and wrapped her arms around him. It was such a loving gesture. Her face snuggled up against his and they both looked at me while he continued to talk about his forth-coming journey. They had already walked that path – together – and here they were going to walk it again – together.
I just couldn’t take it anymore. Her face. Her love. Her bond with him. Cancer affects everyone – she was going to walk the cancer path just as much as he was.
I tried to hold the tears back… I did NOT want them to see me cry. They needed to talk about it – and had every right to do that. Yet, I didn’t want to hear it. I couldn’t. Was I to be next?
“Excuse me.” I pardoned myself from their presence.
I hoped I had escaped quietly enough. I did not want to make a scene. I just could not hold back the tears, my fears, my sadness any longer.
I bolted home to be alone. I just needed time. My emotions surprised me – how close they were to the surface. Yes. I was afraid. Yes. I was struggling. Yes. I was weak.
It was her hug that sent me over the edge. This affection was so tender, so human. It was so fragile. What would she do without him? How much pain would she suffer if he did not last? What about their children? How would they cope? The questions swirled in my head and consumed me. I sobbed. I did NOT want my family to suffer.
What choice do we have?
We cannot shut people out or protect them from the pain of losing a loved one. Is is really better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all? It hurt. My imagination ran wild. I felt sorry for myself. I felt sorry for having left. I felt sorry for my family.
I was grateful to Martin for having spoken so openly to me. I was deeply touched by his wife’s obvious love for her husband. It was such a beautiful moment.
I wish I could have stayed there and enjoyed that moment longer. It takes great strength to witness that kind of love. I hope, one day, to be able to face my mortality courageously and to be stronger.
It was a beautiful moment, the moment she hugged him. It is a moment I will never forget.