I can still recall the incident, oh so many years ago. I was a newlywed, visiting my mother, and telling her about some matter that, in hindsight, I’m sure was quite trivial. I said to her [or perhaps whined would be a better verb] “it’s just not fair!”
I remember this day in particular because of Mother’s response to that proclamation. She got this horrified look on her face, and immediately demanded, “Who the hell ever told you life was fair? If life was fair, your father would still be alive!”
I remember that her vehemence surprised me. Her attitude wasn’t one I possessed at the tender age of 18. At that age I believed life should be fair and would be fair if only I could figure out how to make it happen.
Times change, of course and thankfully, we mature. After more than a half century of living, one thing that has been proven to me over and over again is this: not only is life unfair, it is sometimes unfair to an appalling degree.
I’ve had that reality demonstrated to me again just this past weekend.
This past Saturday I drove for two and a half hours to visit my friend—the one I reconnected with just a couple of years ago. I wish I could say the occasion for this visit was to enjoy a fun, social time, but it was not.
I went, because her husband was dying from a brain tumor. He was at home, had refused any further treatment, and so she stayed at home with him, taking care of him because, as she said, “I promised him that I would”.
This will be the second time my friend has suffered the loss of a husband. She said to me, “At least this time I know, and I can say all the things I didn’t get to say last time.”
Her first husband died suddenly in his early forties.
My friend and her current husband are good people. They have family and friends, and they are loved by all who know them. They’ve never sought to do harm to another human being, and have offered their help to whomever, whenever they could—even reaching out to those who have wronged them.
Life really is not fair.
When I arrived at her home Saturday, she had friends there, and a nurse’s aide, as well. She needed to get out for a bit—aside from the fact that she had to run a couple of errands, she just needed a break.
I took her to lunch, and we spent time simply being in each other’s company. We reminisced about what it was like being kids in the 1960s, and since we’d known each other’s mothers, we looked back on them from the perspective of being mothers and grandmothers ourselves.
My friend is suffering of course, because, though she’s never been one to wax sentimental, her husband—this man who only a few short weeks before had been a vital, laughing, loving man—is the love of her life. She calls him her best friend, and her soul mate.
He’d been a best friend and a bulwark to her first, this man who’d also been a friend of her first husband’s which was how they met. He had been there for her children, too, as they’d grieved the loss of their father. Friendship eventually gave way to deeper, more intimate feelings. He has been good for her. He challenged her on so many different levels, expanding her horizons. He got her to do things she never thought she’d ever do.
At forty-something years old my friend learned how to ride motorcycle!
We returned from lunch, and she spent time getting her husband settled in the hospital bed that had arrived while we were out. He sleeps, mostly, but she said, he knows her when she’s there. He talks, but just the odd word here and there. After she made him as comfortable as possible in that bed Saturday, he said, “safe”.
She told me that when she held his hand the night before—which would have been Friday night—he brought her hand to his lips and kissed her fingers.
I had no words to give her, but she didn’t need my words. She just needed my hugs and my presence, both of which I was grateful to give her.
I’ve often wondered why some people seem to get such a super-sized helping of crap in their lives. That is a mystery for which I simply have no answer.
My friend’s husband passed away Monday afternoon.