Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I could do it better

Some years ago I watched as a friend’s wife died. I didn’t know her; he was my friend. I stood by for years in relative silence and witnessed the crushing effect her illness had on him and their family.

She was furious. She couldn’t stand that it was happening to her. She found every occasion she could to remind him that she was dying, he was not, and she hated him for it. She rebuffed every attempt he made to reach out to her. What could he possibly know about it? It was her problem and she only wanted for it to go away. If he couldn't do that for her, why would she want to talk about the monster she didn’t want to face? What would be unleashed if she admitted to herself the full horror of her condition? She saw the situation as hers alone, and seemed to think that letting him love and help her would give free rein to her deepest, darkest, most devastating feelings.

I understand a little better now what drove her to those conclusions and fueled her behavior, but at the time I couldn’t imagine how she could shut her family out so completely. Conversations about her always ended in a quizzical “But…”.

And at the time I thought I could certainly do it better.

But really, I wasn’t asking for a chance to prove it.

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