Today is exactly 9 months since we found out the bad news and we began going to goa. Enough time to have a baby! People—including doctors I have met here—keep asking me how I’m able to cope and stay committed to being here by Scott’s side until the end? I don’t know where the strength comes from and some days it is difficult to find more. But as a wise dad has said, “Hang tough, kid!” and that’s what I am doing. It has not been easy but nobody ever said marriage was without ups and downs. In fact in sickness and in health is written right into traditional wedding vows.Not sure if those words are written into Indian wedding vows or that of other cultures. Here in India they used to traditionally practice sati (suttee), which is throwing widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Now illegal, you still hear about it from time to time in the faraway villages of this exotic nation. Scott and I never got around to getting legally hitched . Like Scott’s recently married friend Dan who took 18 years to tie the knot with his girlfriend, we always thought “What’s the rush?!”. Our idea of marriage has always been eternal commitment renewed daily. You can read the very personal vows that Scott’s cousin Jill created for us if you care to.
It’s interesting to note that a 2009 study shows that when a spouse becomes ill a man is more likely to leave than a woman. Only 3% of women leave/divorce their ill mates while 64% of men do. It’s almost as if caregiving is built-in to the feminine gender’s DNA. In fact, a current trend you can look up on Google is that of discarded exwives coming back to caregive at the bedside of their former husbands. That’s how deeply rooted the caregiving gene and perhaps the cultural conditioning is for the majority of women, even in today’s world. However, I personally know a few dedicated men who have stuck with their spouses right to the end so I believe that 64% figure is significantly low. Maybe I’m an idealist but I think most human beings find a way to do the right thing and tend their mates when they get sick. Even though I freely admit that lately I am sometimes on the verge of crazy and almost always totally drained 0n a daily basis, it has been an extraordinary experience and I could not live with myself if I didn’t stand by my beloved in his time of need. That being said, you’ll be glad to hear that jumping on the pyre a la sati is NOT an option…so this week I made a tough decision and transferred Scott to a small private facility. I’m able to be there all day and our Gang sits by his side through the night. His doctor and I are now better able to manage his directives to be comfortable and pain-free, more alert, and they are not doing anything to artificially prolong his life. He may even feel like painting again soon. And now that I am able to get more than 2 hours of sleep a night, so might I.