“Grief is the price we pay for love”*
This quotation has been on my mind a lot recently, let’s say I am currently paying my debts.
My Dad is ill; very ill, and the prospects are not good. He has been in hospital for over three weeks now and his decline has been swift. Though we hope to put things in place to get him home, we know that this is so that he can spend his final days in familiar surroundings with those who love him. It’s about all we can do for him now.
His health hasn’t been good for a while, Type 2, Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia have all played their part, but up until about two weeks before Christmas he was at least mobile enough to get himself round his house, and independent enough to feed himself.
These diseases have robbed him of so much now. That big man who sheltered me, who was always there, who if he said he would do something always came through, is now just a husk of what he was. No memory of anything over an hour earlier – if that, constantly tired, thirsty and in pain.
The man I knew as Dad is all but gone, except for old memories of childhood, and stories told over and over so many times they are tattooed on my and his shared consciousness.
My heart is howling. I can do nothing for him to ease this or make it better. Ease will only come with an ending and every time I think of that, I am overcome with wave after wave of crushing guilt.
Life continues around hospital visits in some surreal way, I have my feet in this world but my head is in his, just as he has a foot in this world but part of him seems to have already left for somewhere else. As conversations happen around me, phones ring, noise of our office seems disjointed and meaningless, I want to walk off and keep walking, I’m detaching from my anchor.
Reality pulls me back in, I’m not a rudderless ship even if it feels that way. I have to remember that I am an anchor myself, because the circle of life continues.
Just a few days ago, we took a family walk through a local park, and Cub Number 2 took my hand and said
“I love you more than anyone else on this planet”
“I love you too son” I said, “But someday I hope you find someone who you can love as much as you love me”
He smiled back at me and said
“Yeah… But I doubt it”
I don’t know how to bear this, someday when it’s my turn to go he’ll be left feeling the way I do now and I just don’t know how to spare him that. This weight of responsibility is bearing down hard.
*Love is the price we pay for grief – a quotation often attributed to Queen Elizabeth II but is part of a longer passage by British psychologist Dr Colin Murray Parks, in his book Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life
“The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love: it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinkers which leave us unprepared for the losses that will inevitably occur in our own lives and unprepared to help others cope with losses in theirs”