Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Your love will be hard, and I'm the bastard who says so

Mel*, we only know each other on Twitter, and I already know how it's going to be.

I really hate being the bastard who says that, when there's going to be an optimistic chorus spouting bullshit and promising that positive thought can defeat disease.

Optimism is seductive and necessary, but so is truth.

The thing is, as you've already discovered, the kind of mind that produces the up-vibe “I will survive!” literature that infests our world, seems to think that chronic and sometimes terminal illness can be slotted in right next to supermarket tampon ad images.

I'm the bastard with my greatest love's Death Note next to my life and my heart. I sympathise even as I hold my dearest against the future. She understand and redirects her tears to you.

We understand that the photos in the hospital literature lie; we know that the glorious promises embodied in steel and glass and genes and research and money will save lives and families – in the future, but not our own.

We resent how it turns out – but that's resentment of life and circumstance. Not of people.

You, like Ms T, are a patient, not an abstract. You've just had your future invaded by the blitzkrieg of diagnosis; a genie reached out a hand and tore your life's to-do list to confetti.

There will be days you cry. You will weep and rage, and at times you'll fly off the handle at those you cling to.

And I'm the bastard who says this. It's so bloody hard: you cannot hold your place in the saddle when the lance strikes your breastbone.

You don't forfeit love because you lose your rag sometimes. We on the receiving end know that you're only releasing a couple of colts from a whole herd of horses, stampeding over your life, health, ambitions, hopes, plans, love, and future.

It hurts to be on the receiving end. I know: Ms T hurts me terribly at times, and sometimes I flare, but the storms always subside.

Our sons have been bloody rocks. The elder was in his HSC year when the maelstrom descended; this year he qualified for honours, and wants to pursue the uncertain life of the scientist. He still will drop everything and sprint at the least word from Ms T, as will his brother.

We, the carers, we who fell in love: we still hold in our hearts and imaginations the beauty we once dared not touch. We loved, and we love.

Illness is merely a bane-companion. We who love are entangled; like photons, our hearts beat with the hearts of those we love, our state depends on your state, and our only wish is that across the long, empty spaces of the universe, you will return to us.

* @Dr_Mel_Thompson, with a recent MS diagnosis, gave me permission to use her real name. I appreciate her decision and honour her bravery.

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