My eye was caught by the beautiful photograph above – which I have borrowed to direct you to the website – and I loved all of today’s blog from one of my favourite bloggers: Make Peace by Glutton For Life – read about the Laura, the Glutton on her ABOUT page.
I was particularly engaged, being a chronic illness sufferer myself, by this extract:
In all the ways that count, George is the healthiest person I have ever known. He showed me that caretaking, though a very loving act, is not the basis for a marriage.
There is a poem that illustrates this beautifully. I first heard it shortly after my husband died of cancer, recited by the poet in a very moving short film called Hope Is The Thing with Feathers. Here are a few lines from Via Dolorosa by Beau Riley, inspired by his partner’s death from AIDS:
Your needs fall away like the leaves from the aspen tree outside our window in the cold December night. Your table gets clearer and clearer until we sit breathing seldom in the dark. We’re down to chapstick and water and love. Then your lips are too sore, so we have water and love. Then your throat is too feeble, so we have love, and these useless chrysanthemums that shine all alone beside me.
It’s one thing to realize that the fight is over when the end is so very near. But chronic illness is a limbo from whose depths you might beg for resolution for all eternity. It’s a constant presence with a monotone intensity that never lets up. According to the CDC, it is defined by a non-self-limited nature (in other words, its course is unknown); by the association with persistent and recurring health problems; and by a duration measured not in days and weeks, but in months and years. It’s not the hellfire of certain death, but, arguably, it’s worse. Six years into a mystery condition that is threatening to leach the vitality from your man, you’ll think nothing of repeated DIY stool transfers, because you would do anything, anything at all, to Just. Make it. Stop. This is totally unlike the heart-rending sprint to the finish line; it’s a grinding slog with no end in sight. For me, only one thing kept the fear, the despair, the anger, the anxiety, the resentment, the exhaustion at bay: love.
George’s pain whittled away at our sex life, but not our intimacy. It blurred our vision of the future, but it couldn’t touch our connection to each other in the moment. Through my practice of yoga, I learned about asmita, the false identification that happens when we mistake the mind, body or senses for the true self, and I realized that neither us of was defined by this circumstance. For all the things that we didn’t have, we still had ourselves and each other. Shored up by this love, our resolve to remain happy didn’t wane…
Beautifully written and deeply profound. I loved it. Do click across and read the full piece. Do you like it as much as I do?