If I had to choose from being hit by a bus to dying from cancer. I would choose being hit by a bus. A bus recently hit one of my oldest and dearest friends. Not literally of course but her husband admitted to having an affair and that was that. He said it was over and it was. Everything happened very stereotypically. They sparred over money, child custody issues, and accused each other of lying. It was like one day she was married and the next she was living in an apartment, a single woman in San Francisco. BOOM.
My marriage died of cancer. I got the initial diagnosis, which was devastating but I had hope I could beat it. I did everything the doctor told me to do. I looked inside myself at my own issues. I made changes. I kept my hurt in check and forgave. I tried to concentrate on the good that I had in my life and focus on the positive for myself and for my husband. And every month or so I would go in for a check up. I would ask him, “So how are we doing?” I felt good and strong and there had been no new symptoms so I was always hopeful that there would be good news. But each and every new appointment I learned that the cancer was still there.
As time went on new symptoms developed. I started to lose weight, everything got harder, and there was a lack of energy. That coincided with him retreating even more until he was coming home after dinner and sleeping on the couch. The pain was impossible to ignore and it started changing how I coped with the rest of my life. My kids saw the change in me and worried. The mood in the house was solemn and full of fear of the inevitable. We all knew death was imminent but no one wanted to admit it (and those not “in it” didn’t know what to say.) No one wanted to say the final good-bye, which would give victory to the cancer.
But eventually I could not fight the losing battle and gave cancer its power. I gave it permission to kill. And he walked out the door. It took months and months to get over it. I had so much hope at first. I wanted a different result. It didn’t happen. Now what? Where at the beginning I would not let myself even conceive failure, now I had to face it. And it was brutal. Why couldn’t I just have been hit by a bus?
If there is anyone reading this blog who is sure they are not willing to do what it takes to save a marriage. SURE –SURE. I say do your spouse a huge favor and just be honest. My husband didn’t want to be the bad guy. He did not want to rip the Band-Aid off my arm. He opted for the slow peel. I can only imagine that he thought it would be less painful if I slowly came to the realization instead of been made to acknowledge. But all it did was prolong my pain.
My friend just finished her first half-marathon last weekend. She has been alone for 4 months and already has the details of her final settlement. I will have been alone for a year and 5 months before my divorce will be final and the only reason for that is because I myself filed the papers. My agony has been going on since September 2007. Almost three years.
There are few benefits to divorce of any kind. And just to clarify I’m not abdicating being cruel to one another for the purpose of cruelty, or being hurtful out of spite. But it is helpful to see a situation as it is. It is helpful to have honesty and to be up front.
And if I’m being completely honest and had a third option, I would choose to die in my sleep, completely oblivious to the end being near.