one life, one love

Posted on: September 22, 2011

As I was leaving the funeral of my husband’s family’s dearest friend, I started tinking about something.

In early August, this man’s wife had died of emphysema, after a week of agony in the hospital. We’d known for some time that she would die because her condition was chronic, so her death wasn’t really a shock to anyone. Of course, her husband was in shreds, because after all, even though you’re prepared, the death of a loved one is still one of the saddest moments of a person’s life.

And this couple, well, they were in their early 70s and all their children are grown up and living with their own families (except for the youngest son, who was planning on leaving the nest soon). They had a country house in a warmer place where they would stay for at least 2 weeks a month, so the wife wouldn’t have to be hooked on oxygen 24/7 as she had to be while in the city. So, it was pretty much the two of them.

And upon her death, I remember telling my husband how I suspected the husband would be going soon too-his life would be meaningless without his sweetheart-. He doubted it, saying that he still had grandchildren and lots to live for, but I disagreed. This man’s life really revolved around his wife and all he had was linked to her. When she left, he must’ve felt like the loneliest person alive. I mean, losing someone is difficult, but when that person is all you have, losing that person is like losing yourself, or at least the part that held you up and gave you a reason to get up every morning.

And so it happened that 6 weeks after his wife’s death, this man suffered a heart attack and died the following evening, quite unexpectedly, as he was in general good health and had no outstanding or serious conditions.

His kids, of course, were left in pieces, as were his closest friends. And even though I knew he’d go soon, I really thought he would hang on a little longer.

There’s a point to all this and I’m getting to it. You see, I’ve always thought it curious how men depend on their women for every little thing and don’t even notice it. I assume that’s why these thing happen: after + 40 years of marriage, the wife suddenly dies and the husband follows a short while later. And yet I have rarely seen this happen the other way round: the husband dies and the wife follows shortly after.

Why? As I was saying, I think men in general become attached and completely dependent on their wives for everything, even the smallest ones. For instance, I know some men who are in the 70s and 80s who don’t know how their microwave works, so they never heat their own meals. Others I know don’t even know what medication they have to take or when they have to take it. So of course, when the wife dies, the husband suddenly loses his compass and no longer knows what to do with or even take care of himself. Even the children of these “lost” men are aware that if their mother dies first the father will go immediately after.

The women, on the other hand, find reasons to keep on going, no matter how crushed or lonely they feel. Be it their children, grandchildren, their garden, their charitable functions, you name it, they find a way to stay alive.

And that is, basically, what I wanted to highlight. The strength of  women in the face of adversity and their will to soldier on no matter what. And I’m not generalizing, because there are surely men out there who are examples to the contrary of what I’m stating, and there is certainly a generational component here, but from where I stand this is what I see.

May they both rest in peace, together, for eternity.


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  • Carrie Rubin: I don't always remember names well, but I remember circumstances. I especially remembered yours because it's such a rare cancer, and you were the firs
  • iamtheinvisiblehand: Thank you for your kind words, but also thank you for remembering it was me....it's amazing that you'd remember this considering the endless stream of
  • Carrie Rubin: I am so sorry to hear about your mother. After you commented on my blog yesterday, I remembered that your mother was the one who had cholangiocarcinom


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