Tonight, my friend and coworker prepares to bury his wife tomorrow. She died this week after almost a year of cancer and constant pain. Now it is his turn for pain.
It is so hard to watch this man, whom I respect and care for, go through something so hard. To see his carefree manner be replaced by quiet, his pain fresh and palpable. I have tried to be there for him when need be, to offer support and understanding, but all too often, I feel as though I was a reminder of what was to come.
His wife is about the same age my mother was when she died. His wife was diagnosed on the anniversary of my mother's last entry into hospital. His wife's cancer was fast growing and aggressive -- jumping from one spot to the other as quickly as they thought it had been wiped out. I was a reminder to him of what he was likely to face. I would not have wanted that reminder of mortality.
Watching him face this -- the travails of cancer treatment, the constant presence of cancer overshadowing every action and interaction, the weakening of the one he is devoted to -- has been like a distressing case of deja vu. However, not for myself, but more for what my father faced. For now, I am not so fully overwhelmed by my own pain and grief. I can stand back and watch with understanding and objectivity. How it is to lose the other half of you.
Tomorrow I will attend the funeral to pay my respects to this woman who meant so much to this man. This woman whose presence will be missed by this man more than air for awhile to come. But mostly, I pay my respects to this man who has a long, lonely, and heart-tearing road ahead of him.