Saturday, April 7, 2012
In the pic you will see a very happy enduring family. The matriarch in the front is my dear dear friend Bev. This photo was taken at a family reunion they all organized when they realized that the patriarch Jack was dying of cancer. Knowing this they decided to have an amazing get together while Jack was still feeling well and had some energy.
I have done Bev's nails for 15 years, take or leave a few months here and there! She has shared her deepest feelings with me over the years and especially over the last few after I started working alone in my salon.
Having this time with her I believe I got to know her heart and her concerns and her humor. I also got to know how very determined she was. Even in the instances that made me cringe as she shared a decision she had made that perhaps was to me an unbearable choice, Bev did the best when she saw every angle of a situation and respected the best choice, for all involved, for the good of the many, for the good of one or whatever the best could be. Sometimes we don't appreciate the best decision. We look away averting our eyes as the pain that choice brings up seems devastating and unbearable. To Bev, disregarding the best decision was unbearable. So, she would with stoic determination get the job done.
Bev started losing her hearing in her teen years and now she has lost about 60% of her hearing. Bev started losing her eyesight in her 50's. She is now 96% blind. Refusing to learn to use a cane or a dog or learn braile, she decided the best for her was to never have the appearance of looking blind or seeming to be deaf. This was a better choice than to have more independence (which she held onto independence with a deathgrip) as the idea of being the "blind lady" was simply too much. So as the days, weeks, months and years passed and the sight disappeared, Bev and Jack just figured it out.
Always cheerful, Jack knew the best for him was to do as Bev desired. This was a secret. He knew this from the day the began dating. She has ALWAYS been clear about how she wanted to live her life. So Jack decided that would work for him because he loved all the qualities she had including the way she ran her life.
So not quite two years ago when Jack was diagnosed with cancer Bev began to walk into a scenario of life that was her biggest fear. I say fear because she is not afraid. I just can't think of a better word right now. Jack's illness and impending death began Bev's path that she never never never wanted to walk.
A life without Jack.
Jack was Bev's driver most of the time. She had many ways of getting around, but he was the designated driver most of the time. She has a life of routine and day after day, year after year they have morphed their life around each and every hurdle of her losses. So it worked. The running of the house, the dealing with the bad falls one will endure if refusing a cane to "see", creating safety and regularity etc. So the idea of Jack dying left Bev with some very very severe and small group of choices. Ones that most of us would divert our eyes from as they are all just too painful.
Bev knew she could not stay at the house alone. The house that she painstakingly designed. The house that held within it every form of routine and anticipating movements. Nothing out of place to trip on, a beloved dog chosen firstly because of her black coloring then she was loved, light carpet to detect things in the way or dropped, a well oiled machine of closet perfection, and every other room with everything in perfect order. She knew this home was either to be occupied with a "stranger" that would have to be her eyes and ears or sold and left to another to enjoy.
Bev also knew that her lifestyle would never be imposed on any of her four boys and their families. This would never happen. This choice was not a choice. Bev was the first to be aware that her lifestyle was not to be imposed on another family member.
However, Bev had considered living with her sister whose husband passed away in recent years of cancer.
She also considered an assisted living situation.
In the fall when the doctors informed Jack and Bev that there was nothing more they could do in the form of treatment and the next stage was to watch him closely, notice where the cancer attacked and treat accordingly. But the treatment would only be to make him as comfortable as possible. And when this happened Bev told me she had made her decision of what she would do when Jack passed but would not discuss it with anyone until he was gone to prevent anyone second guessing her mindset.
So in early March Bev told me that the doctors had noted the cancer would soon be affected Jack's spine. This would involve radiation to assist with the pain but it would most likely be the beginning of the end of Jack's life on this earth. She told me this prognosis on a Saturday morning.
The next Friday afternoon while Jack was at lunch with his brothers Bev took matters into her own hands and committed suicide.
Such shocking news to me. This woman that I felt I knew her heart and knew how she felt about so many things had never never shared even one slice of indication she would choose this. Probably choosing not to share this with me was because she knew I too was a woman of sometimes difficult choices and would most likely share this information with Jack and then he would have never left her alone to do this thing.
The news rocked me to my core. I was not nor am still not in judgment of her decision. I get it. I really get it. Faced with this choice and knowing it was the best choice for the best situation for herself and for the future of all involved this decision would involve hurting these dear dear people in her life including the man of her life fighting for his own life to find her himself and leave him alone to deal with the last stages of this cancer battle. Plus also leave him with the vision burned into his mind never to fade away of finding her lifeless body.
But I get it.
Before I knew what happened I knew Bev was gone to this earthly body I began to see how Jack could face his own death without having to worry about Bev. He would not have to see her face watch him die. He would not have to worry about the details of the sale of the house and where would she go and what would she do. No more concerns for her safety and welfare.
About a day and a half after hearing about her suicide I realized that all those things are still true. Jack can now face his own death without having to be faced with Bev's welfare still and forever. It was his job. Bev's welfare was his job. No one else had stepped up to it. And now his sons and their families, his brothers and their families and all else that could step up would and have to assist him.
Granted many have said they could only imagine that Jack even knowing all of this would still choose to have Bev with him now in physical earthly form. I know he feels that way. He deserves to have her now as he faces this final stage. He has "earned" that.
But Bev has taught me well that the only person that can know what is best for me is me. I cannot live life for anyone else first. I have to live life in my own truth first and foremost.
She has also taught me that we can face the most difficult decision when we are willing to see every option and be in consideration of the best decision even when it seems to be the most ugly, the most painful way. She was sold out to the best decision even when it meant much pain and agony for many in the long run she knew it would be the best overall.
I know that doesn't sound right. I know that doesn't make sense. It is the best I can do right now at 5 am to relate my heart. And I know how much I miss her. And still I honor her courage.
I just miss her is all.
Posted by Mary Ellen at 4:04 AM
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