An if he were alive conversation (a heated one), Handsome Husband and I would be having, upon me finding out he’d told his daughter, who is a lovely person but not his wife and this isn’t what we’d agreed upon numerous times, that he wanted her to be his medical advocate. (Which, by the way, was never put in writing.)
Him: I just wanted to protect you.
Me: Protect me from what?
Him: I know you’re tired. I’ve been dealing with so many health issues since my first cancer. You’re tired of dealing with me dealing with all these issues.
Him: You’ve said so many times how you don’t want to deal with this any more. How tired you are of talking about vitamins and nutrition and what I can and can’t eat, and cancer and fungal infections.
Me: Yeah, I am. So?
Him: The cancer is back. I’m sick. It’s going to be nothing but medical decisions from here on out. I don’t want you to have to do that.
Me: Didn’t we sign papers years ago, after talking about this very thing, that you would do for me and I’d do for you? Isn’t that what married people do? Didn’t we talk about this very thing when you went into the hospital? And when you came into hospice? Didn’t we agree that I had your back, that I’d make sure you weren’t in pain, that your pain would be managed?
Him: Yes, we did.
Me: Then what the fuck?
Him: I want to spare you. I want you to not have to worry about the medical stuff. I want you to be able to just be here with me.
Me: Doesn’t being with you ALSO entail me making sure that you’re okay physically, in spite of the fucking cancer?
Him: Yes. And we did agree on it. And I know you’ll make sure my pain is managed. I didn’t, I don’t want you to be burdened with any decisions.
Me: Burdened? Are you fucking kidding me? You’re my husband! You have fucking cancer! Yes, I’m tired of the whole damn thing! But that doesn’t mean I’m quitting, for Christ’ sake! It just means I’m tired of the whole damn thing! So what? Aren’t you tired of the whole fucking mess? Aren’t you tired of our lives being taken over by this damn, fucking, cancer?
Him: Yes. I’m tired of it all. I want us back too. Just like you’ve said so many times. Don’t you think I want our lives back? But we’re not getting our lives back. The cancer is back. I’m in hospice. I’m going to die. Soon. And I wanted to spare you this part of it. The medical part. So I told my daughter I wanted her to help you. Not take over. Or at least that isn’t what I meant. I meant that she should help you and talk with you if you were uncertain about things.
Me: What she heard was that she was the one to make medical decisions for you. I’m not even a part of it. And that you wanted her to keep it a secret from me.
Him: That’s not what I meant, clearly.
Me: Well, not so clearly, evidently. I’m your wife. You and I are a team. We’ve always been a team. I don’t care if I’m tired of the whole fucking thing. I love you. And I know you want to protect me, to shelter me from this. But there is no hiding, no sheltering. You need to clarify this with her. Because what I’m feeling is I’m shut out of a major part of your life, and I know you don’t mean that to happen.
Him: Of course I’m not shutting you out. I just want someone to support you in any decisions to be made, if I’m not able to make them myself.
Me: Then you need to straighten this shit out, pronto. Because it isn’t good and it’s not going to be good unless you do. For my sake and her sake, never mind yours. I love that you have always protected me, that you love me so much that you don’t want me to feel alone in this. But seriously, you need to straighten this shit out.
Him: I’ll talk to her.
Me: And what the hell did you mean when you told her to keep it a secret?
Him: I didn’t want to make an issue of it. I wanted her to quietly support you, offer you suggestions if there was something you didn’t understand. You always tell me how it’s good to have two sets of ears when medical information is involved. She could be a sounding board for you.
Me: I get that. That’s fine. But that’s not what she heard. So get that shit clearly stated to her.
Him: I will. Right away.
Me: We’re good then.
Him: All I know is that I love you more than life itself, more than any other person I’ve ever loved. I want you with me. I don’t want to leave you and I know I have to and I’m worried about you.
Me: I know. I know. I know. This is killing me, losing you. But do something, and do it fast because this is serious shit.
Him: Come sit with me. Be with me, next to me. I love you. You’ll never know how much I’ve loved you, and love you now.
Me: I’ve always felt loved by you. Which is why to get this shit settled now. We don’t need this coming between us.
* This conversation was never had, except in my mind, in the days prior to his death and afterwards. I went back and forth with my sister, once I was made aware of this, with friends-how do I handle this? What did he say, how did he say it and what did she hear? I didn’t want to further upset him, so I never spoke to him about it. He was on heavy medications, he wasn’t thinking clearly (though he appeared to be at times). He was dying, for Christ’ sake. So I never said anything to him out of concern that if he clarified things with his daughter there might very well be unpleasantness, which would lead to more discussion between he and I, and for fuck’s sake, he was dying! So I sucked it up. Not in an oh, I’ll just let it lie and be okay with it way but in a my husband is dying and I’ll be double-damned if I spend the last days of his life having these conversations way.
Which has, unfortunately, make a lot more of all of this suck big time, after his death. I think it’s called complicated grief….