Life is hard. I’ve always heard that,
But thought it had to be cinematic to be true.
You know, like it had to have a music score by John Williams and play on the big screen.
A friend decided this week to separate from her husband;
They have two small children and a house to sell.
Its winter, and the market is soft.
So, they’ll be living together there for a while, knowing
The marriage is over but unable to move on.
The screaming matches have evaporated from mutual exhaustion,
The warring parties withdraw to separate bedrooms to
Wait for Spring, for the lawyers, for a miracle.
Another’s wife had abdominal surgery,
another’s daughter is struggling with a devastating cosmetic disease,
a another’s child is drifting through life, and her mother worries.
A week ago, a 96-year-old woman went through the last chapter and scenes of her life:
A stroke, a fall, pain, sedation, confusion, fear, loneliness;
Her daughter shoulders a burden she has carried before, four times,
With her husband, husband’s parents (both with dementia and in separate rooms in the nursing home) and an aunt.
Walking with them in their last ghastly hours.
Sacrifice without complaint.
Then, when life seemed to offer a little
Love for her, that was taken away, too.
She found him in his home
When he failed to show up for dinner.
Life is hard.
She seemed to shrink after that.
What’s the use, her body said.
A distant acquaintance gets the flu and, through a series of
Freak accidents, breaks several toes while throwing up.
Then loses her job, just before finding out that her husband
Has been unfaithful with a teller at the local bank and it all comes pouring out,
How much he hates her. She never knew.
Months later, before the divorce is final, the last is that she learns he’s given her a little bug for a present.
Another friend is dropped during a community theater rehearsal while being carried offstage
and shatters several bones in one leg. Months of recovery and rehab and dreariness ensue.
Healing takes so much longer now.
Life. So hard.
A friend watches yet again as disease erodes the spirit of
His mate and best friend of decades.
Long nights in the darkness, wondering if her breathing
will stop this time… or this time… or this time…
He falls asleep, finally, and wakes at dawn in a panic.
Her chest is moving up and down. This day, like the others,
Will be hard. Nothing to do but get through it. Weeks need to pass.
He lays his head back on the pillow and stares at the ceiling.
Feels his advancing age and
Fears his own decay, he wants to quit, to leave.
He think about the restorative power of new love, could he have it?
But he cannot abandon his first when she needs him most.
There is no one to comfort him, no one to care for the caregiver.
No one likes a whiner. He is silent.
A shower. Helping her to the bathroom. Helping her dress. Holding her. Going to work.
These are the questions of quiet desperation in ordinary lives.
Not cinematic, not grand, not all that unusual.
These are our lives, We’re busy with our lives. Our regular lives.
Full of pain and delusion and quiet courage, full of sorrows and sins and weaknesses, too.
And if any pollster wants to check the country’s mood,
They need to find a way to measure the kind of courage it takes
To face every dawn and keep going. Meanwhile, it’s fine for us to
tell the pundits and pollsters and politicians and other vermin like them,
You need to
We’re busy with important things.