I am tired but I am not as filled with dread as I have been so many times when my heart was scaring me. What is being done to Clo’s body is horrific. I am so very, very sorry. I try to share some of the load as best I am able, but there really is no, or at least very little, sharing that can be done. She always knows she is filled with cancer. She realizes the extent, and mostly she focuses on something else. She told me today if she wakes up at night feeling alone and frightened, she will wake me. I am glad.
I am pretty tuned in to her night activities. Though sometimes I do sleep right through them. She said last night I woke each time she did and I know I tried to learn if there was something I could do to ease her angst. But she said there was not. I don’t want her to be frightened and alone in this journey. I want to be with her. Sometimes she feels me shut her out and I think I do that. I get tired of cancer. I get afraid. I want laughter, joy, hope and assurance. I want relief. I want the magic of life to come back.
The magic was back for a few hours when Lisa was here and she and I walked at the beach in the sun with Aimee and laughed at ourselves. The magic creeps in when I think of Sydney, Nick and Chris. The magic filled the household when Chris and Jessie were here. Christmas was filled with magic.
I guess I mean love when I say magic. That is a big part of it. But the love hasn’t left the household even when it is only Clo, Aimee and me here. The house is filled with our love for each other, all 3 of us. And it is a complicated loving. A loving in which the fear of loss hovers always, the fear of loss and the knowing that loss is inevitable. Clo and I share a foggy loving that is tender and petrified.
I ask myself often if I feel shame that I did not get her to the hospital faster. Do I feel shame that I need help already to care for us in our lives and there will be much more to come? Do I feel anticipatory shame that I will let her down, or let myself down, or let our friends see a side of me that is less than I want to be? I think, yes to all of those possibilities and more perhaps.
Shame is about letting yourself down. We put our best foot forward and show only parts of ourselves, the parts that we want others to see and admire and respect. I hope my flaws at best are not noticed, at worse, will be forgiven. When I am vulnerable I cannot always hold myself together the way I want to and the way I expect myself to. I fall short. When I am rested and feel strong and safe I can look like I know what I am going to do next and sometimes I may actually be able to pull that off and maybe even pull it off with finesse. I can be fierce and have that be okay. But I inflate like a poked balloon when I am unable to stand up and do what I expect of myself.
I expect myself to take care of my partner. That is my job. I teach couples that all the time: It is your job as a loving, primary, long term partner to keep that partner safe. That is what I teach.
For me that means when you look sick and tired and overwhelmed much of the time you need help. How come I missed that with Clo? Can I forgive myself for not insisting she see our doctor sooner?
Clo and I are a team. We have each other’s backs. And we respect and value the input we give and receive from each other. I trusted her to tell me when she was sick. She denied the reality her body was trying to tell all of us. I respected her reality. That is an interesting balancing act for partners to do with each other. I think we can point out what we see, speak to what we would wish for, and then we need to find a place to let go and let our partner find their way at their own pace. I don’t want to use that as an excuse for not shouting fire sooner. I do want to respect my desire for her best interests, and her desire for autonomy and making her own decisions.
There may be some disappointment that I am not always as strong as I want to be. But equally I am pleased that Clo and I hold tight to each other and listen to what each of us want. We are in sync with the process of cancer living with us and affecting each of us forever. It is through our mutual respect and support for each other that we are able to do this journey at all. Shame does not belong here. I am walking in love and that is what counts. I learn, I change, I grow, and as a team Clo and I make life decisions. That is all there is to do.