Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Can't a guy get a break?

Justin's biological father who lives in Denver, CO, had a stroke.

Granted, it was a mild stroke and his symptoms seem to consist of slurred speech, searching for words and facial drooping, but it was a stroke.

Today is July 31.

Justin's mom died on June 6, after being admitted to the ER on April 29 and enduring a six week fight with pneumonia that really began seven years ago when she had a cancerous brain tumor removed.

Dad 66.

Mom 59.

Justin figures he "won't be one of those guys who lives to be 90 something."

I told him he had to because we had to die together--so he joked about a suicide pact (for later, of course.)

I'm a little too stunned to be upset in a grieving kind of way. Just seems like a cruel joke to keep this for whom the bell tolls toll continuing in rapid succession.

When I told my mom in her typical bright-side fashion, she said something like, "At least all the factors that have impacted your marriage have been ancillary."

No, they have not. No matter how old we are or how far away from them we live, our parents are still the center of our core. Their living and dying directly affect our own being. And not just their mortality--but when they are alive the way they live affects us.

So in our five year marriage, Justin almost died of a bone infection related to his partial foot amputation and for six months I nursed him by giving him IV antibiotics in the middle of the night, crying while changing his bandage every day, visiting him daily for weeks in the hospital, and observing home visits from a nurse. He applied for and began medical school--an experience which wears many relationships into divorce all by itself. I had a miscarriage and MDD that put me into the hospital for some time while he feared my death and moved our household without my support. His mother was ill and died. His father had a stroke....

These are experiences central to our individual existence as human beings. These are experiences that are central to our relationship. These are experiences that individually could have pushed love to the breaking point. These are experiences that in other marriages have caused rifts so deep and wide they cannot be repaired. These are experiences that end relationships.

But Justin and I go through all of this together. We are each other's life partners. Perhaps it is because of our first-month-of-marriage experience with Justin's near death that we gained the strength and wisdom to know that we need each other so deeply and seriously. Perhaps we just know.

People look at our marriage from the outside and comment on its ease, its happiness, its luckiness, its joy, its perfection.

It is all of those things.

But despite our continuing affection and attachment and silliness-laughter, marriage is work.

We're not so happy just because we found each other.

We are so happy because we work hard not to lose each other--not for any reason.

We are happy because we work hard to save each other, protect each other, love each other. We are happy because we work for the joy and happiness of our partners, despite the constantly varying levels of ease or perfection we see in that person.

We are happy because we know that our marriage is our most important job--or as it was called in Justin's first year of medical school classes "the other elective."

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