Like a dagger, or a whisper

Recently, something happened that touched me, pleased me, and broke my heart all at the same time. A girl wrote me… well, let’s be honest, a woman wrote me, a woman my age, which is why I wrote girl just now… when will I start perceiving myself and my contemporaries as the old fogies we are rather than the adolescent I believe myself to be? Yet that is neither here nor there.

So this woman wrote me an email, she’d been reading my old blog, moomser, and was asking if I’d moved elsewhere, so I redirected her here. I asked a bit about her and the email that followed broke my heart and made me cry. Actual, literal, tears.

Many moons ago I wrote a post titled “There, but for the grace of God” (http://moomser.blogspot.it/2011/11/there-but-for-grace-of-god.html) , take a minute to read it if you’re up to it, because nothing I’ve experienced so far has once brought me that feeling of having barely avoided tragedy so much as the email I received a few days hence. This woman who wrote me, she could have been me, or rather I could have been her; her situation was so similar, so similar and yet, as she says herself, so different. And reading her email, it made me ashamed, because for months, for years, even now, I concentrate on the consequences of The Husband’s illness, and there are still many, but at the end of the day I still have a husband, my children still have their father. And she does not.

I cannot even imagine, my brain refuses to imagine, how that feels.

I’m going to be brutally honest for a minute here, please don’t judge me too harshly…. there are days, in fact, there are entire weeks, where the Husband and I don’t get along, at all, and I have more than once entertained the thought that my life would be easier if he had died. Yes. I actually just wrote that. Out loud, as it were. I can barely bring myself to reread the words. Not my children’s lives, of course, I would never wish something like that on them, but my life, yes. At times I’ve though that had he not survived the illness then I would have mourned for him, I would have grieved, it would have been unspeakably difficult, but I would have healed and moved on, as I’ve seen countless people do. I would not be fighting to fit this new person I am married to (because the illness has inevitably changed him) into a box shaped like my old husband. The leukemia and all that came after changed him, as it changed me, but sometimes it’s hard to be married to a person so different from the person you married. So I’ve (callously) wondered “what if” in my darkest moments. And now I feel ashamed.

The email I received was in no way self-pitying, it was upbeat, engaging and she spent more time talking about the similarities between our situations than the differences, but the differences are what broke my heart. I cried for this woman I’ve never met and I cringed at all the posts I’ve written complaining about the Husband for this and that other reason. Because I still have a husband, and my children still have a father, and that is a much bigger blessing than I often realize.

Over the years I’ve been contacted by several women in my, or similar, situation, but I’ve gradually moved away from the illness and that period in my life and I’ve lost touch with most of them. Although I still wonder about each and every one of them, how they’re faring, how their stories continued… but this last woman, well she touched me in a way few people have in my life, because, well, truly, there but for the grace of God go I.

All this to say, every time I get a comment or an email from a reader, it teaches me something about life, about love, about death and sorrow and pain, but also hope, and happiness and health, it touches my heart like a dagger, or a slap, or a whisper, or a caress, but it never, ever leaves me indifferent. So thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you for writing, for reaching out, thank you for being a part of my life.