Monday, December 14, 2009


Her love for him was astounding.

After months in the hospital he came home. Everyone at the hospital warned her about the work it would take to support him at home. Everyone warned her about the complexities of his need. Everyone told her that there was no hope, that he would not get better. She listened. And listened. And listened.

And brought him home.

A big hospital bed made it's way through the lobby and into their apartment.

Wheelchairs and mobility aids followed along with medical supplies.

She never wavered, she opened the door to whatever he needed.

She spoke to us about his need to eat. She spoke to us about her faith in his will to live. She told us that when you love someone you do what needs to be done. Love does not question need. Love does not resent care. Love may not conquer disease but it sure as hell can conquer aloneness. He would not be in a hospital alone, he would be home with her. As long as he needed. As long as he lasted.

She is a hard woman. Her hands were shaped from years of hard work. Her no nonsense manner brought her respect even admiration.

But it was her love of him that defined her in my mind. It made the lines in her face soften. It made the tone of her voice lift. One could tell that, in her heart, love had taken root in her life.

But now.

He is gone.

Today there will be a viewing.

Tomorrow she will be alone as he flies home to another country to lie near his children.

I have not seen her since he left us.

I pray that when I look in her eyes I will still see love there. I pray that she still feels warmth from his embrace. I pray that her strong, strong heart, does not break.


Gary Miller said...

A moving story Dave. It irks me somewhat that the vast majority of people are unaware, or unwilling to accept, that this is not a unique story.

It is happening now, all around us. Every second of every minute; every minute of every hour; every hour of every day; every day of every week; every week of every month and every month of every year someone is needing love, compassion and help...

...and, for most of those, there is someone there for them, through the most powerful urge to help of all - love.

Carers, wherever they are and whatever degree of caring they provide, deserve our respect and our admiration...

...and at the end they, in turn, need our help and our support.

I know that you and Joe will be there for your friend...

FridaWrites said...

Sounds very much like my grandparents this fall. My guess is that someone strong enough to bring him home will not break, though it will be extremely difficult.

Shan said...


I always wonder whether this systemic lack of compassion, that you write about daily, springs in part from our society's emotional disconnect from family -- especially elderly family. We've built institutions for our elders to move into, where we take our sullen and alienated teenagers four times a year. We dig time out of the busyness of our lives to swing by every now and then for ten minutes to visit our mothers, who sit in the common room by the hour, for days and weeks on end, waiting for someone to remember they are there.

Then people are shocked when their OWN children plunk them into a 'care residence' the second they forget to take a prescription, or boil the kettle dry.

The gritty aspects of life have been removed from the sphere of the family, where they belonged for all the long ages of man, up until the 19th century. People aren't even BORN at home anymore. As a result of this removal, where the most intense and basic of human experience gets whisked out of view and sanitized, childbirth, illness, age, lingering death - these things have become scary and alien to us. People have got uncomfortable with reminders of them. You see it every day with people's response to wheelchairs, scarred faces, empty sleeves pinned up...these make people think about illness. Stuff that they aren't used to dealing with...'that's what professionals are for'. Even breastfeeding is controversial in this stupid society. Why? Because people have this vague idea that it belongs to the hospital. Not to mention there's an actual bodily fluid involved, ew.

Wow, that turned into a rant. Sorry.

Rachael said...

Dear Dave
I had an intensely person response to your words 'love doesn't resent care'. For me, as a carer, that isn't always true.
It's my daughter, rather than my partner or parent, that I care for, and I am a very privileged carer. My daughter has a physical disability, along with a bright and engaging personality - and therefore I don't often have to defend her. I live in a well-off country, with access to a lot of assistive technology (such as electric wheelchairs) that make our life relatively easy. I have a job, and enough money to manage without undue stress. And I love my daughter very much indeed. But sometimes, I resent having to pull myself away from whatever I'm absorbed in to get her a drink, or take her to the toilet, or to wake up and put a blanket on or take it off. I sometimes resent having to manage her anxieties and the practicalities of her having freezing feet due to poor circulation. Sometimes I resent the level of physical care she needs - more like a baby or toddler than a 12 year old. Yet I love her, and it's not her that I resent.
I think that this resentment is normal - it comes with being a carer. I imagine there probably are carers around who NEVER resent, but I'm not one of them. It doesn't stop me being a great mum, and caring for my daughter really really well. But worrying that being resentful sometimes means I'm not doing it right, not being loving - that scares me, stops me, prevents me from being who I am - a mum, and a carer.