I Know What Beckett Meant

Today I talked to a friend of mine about the death of his wife. She suffered from pancreatic cancer. Since she died two years ago, the sister of another friend has also succumbed to pancreatic cancer. And just before that, another close friend’s wife. All in the space of 24 months. Why?

This begs the question. Is there a link in the deaths of three outwardly healthy women, all in their early forties, all of whom had children?

We had a good chat. I told him that I had found out that one of these girls, when confronted with her own mortality and the reality that her children would grow up without their mother, had expressed the wish that she could speak to someone else who was in this situation. To help understand you see. To prepare herself and them. For what lay ahead. How could anyone comprehend that. Even begin to?

My friend today expressed his regret that I maybe hadn’t passed that information on to him. He may have been able to talk to her he said. He had been there you see. He also offered to speak to my other friend if it helped at all. He’s like that.

This is what being grown up is supposed to be like. Two grown men can stand on a doorstep talking about the death of one’s wife. The other, me, feeling inadequate and helpless. God, but I’m lucky.

But, if we focus on the living and not the dead only good can come of it. And it so happens that this guy is an inspiration to me. His late wife was a friend, not a close friend, but she was a friend nonetheless. And I do what I can to help him when I can giving lifts and small things.

But I often think, what sort of hand is this to be dealt? What would you do in the same situation. People say it’s worse if it’s the mother. Having grown up without my father for all but ten years of my life I can empathise (as they say, but they don’t know) but not really.

What would I do? I imagine the mornings alone and the nights lonely. The despair, when the door closes and you’re alone. No-one to watch over me, to keep an eye on me. To scold and cajole me. No-one to talk to in the evening, to steal a piece of toast from, to make tea for or a late night sandwich. No more vegetarian Jaljal. The loneliness. The nights in, tea for one. A glass, maybe bottle, of wine? The same question every morning. What does this look like. Not any more.

Would I ever venture out again? Would I take it out on my children. Burning tears of despair and rage, I can feel what that might feel like. Only once last year outside the hospital, I can remember that… I can hear myself screaming to myself it’s not fair. Why?

But I would have to go on. For everyone’s sake and my own.

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