Earlier this week my mother's uncle Herman died very suddenly of a heart attack. He left his wife, Willy, who is nine years older than he was and is in very poor health. She can hardly see anymore and in recent years he had done everything for her. Grocery shopping, cleaning, all paperwork, money, everything. My grandparents, my mom, and I visited them a few years ago when I was in Holland, and I remember him even carefully helping her carry coffee into the living room, guiding her around furniture. Yes, it was overwhelmingly kind and touching that he was doing all this for her, that he was there for her through it all, but at the same time it was so incredibly sad and horrible.
The night Herman died, Willy sisters and brothers told my mother of a scene that I can't quite shake. Willy sat in her chair in the living room, maybe the light was muted and dust floated in the air, much like it did the day we visited. Over and over she said, "how could he leave me? How could he?" She seemed utterly lost without him. Her brothers and sisters offered their houses, begged to stay and help her through the night, but she refused. She just wanted to sit in that chair, "I probably won't even go to bed, I can't sleep."
If this was The Notebook, Willy's story would be spun to look romantic. She spent her entire life loving him, he took care of her, now she's pining away for his lost love. I just can't see it that way. I just see an old woman, lost without her other half, who can't even bring herself to move from her chair and go to bed, so she sits there, helplessly all through the night. How is there even a shred of romance in that? I know my grandparents and great aunts and uncles will take care of her. They'll stay with her, they'll eventually insist that she comes to stay with them, but right now I'm only sad for her.
That was quite a depressing post.