Who could have known there would be so many tears?

15 Aug

Hello everyone,

I’m on my way to Sydney to sit with my husband, who has suffered a massive stroke.

Though we’ve been married for some twenty-six years, a second marriage for both of us, for the last few years we’ve had little to do with one another. Ours was a ‘love of my life but we can’t live together ’ situation.

We could never bring ourselves to divorce. “I’ll never want to marry anybody else,” he said, when I once angrily advised him to expect the papers. Of course, his response disarmed me completely, and I realised I probably wouldn’t want to marry anyone else either, so we never took that final step.

I thought I saw him for several days before I heard the news of his illness. Going about my business in the little village where I live, I thought I saw him walking ahead of me, the loping gait, the baseball cap, the jeans and checked shirt.

I remember that every time he was about to make another appearance in my life, I would sense his presence in the days before he arrived in the flesh, or rang up, or emailed, or sent something in the post. So I knew these imagined sightings were precursors. He always said he also knew when I was about to make an appearance, because he started dreaming about me.

I don’t know why we couldn’t sort it out a whole lot better than we did.

He said he wanted to die before me because he didn’t want to be on this planet if I wasn’t. I said if that was the case, I wanted to lie down beside him and hold him in my arms as he left me.

He may or may not know me now.

For some reason all the planes were full today, so I’ve had to take the train. As it turns out I don’t mind at all. I don’t feel like being above the earth. I feel like being firmly upon it. The landscape is simply gorgeous at 7am on a winter’s morning, with fog rising above the rivers and paddocks, and sun on the dew. My best friend, with whom I share a house (she a widow, me still yet a wife) drove me to the station in the dark. I call her Mrs Chook. She calls me Senora. These nicknames have something to do with a trip we made to Mexico, though I’ve forgotten what. The Dog, who yesterday cost us $200 for his dental hygiene, was left sulking at home.

Yesterday Mrs Chook visited a sleep clinic in search of a remedy for her snoring. Around 6pm she walked in rigged up like a suicide bomber, with wires on her head and hard-cased things wrapped around her torso to monitor her sleep. This is because I recently refused to travel with her anymore in situations where we have to share a room. It was for her own good, I told her. I would have injured her eventually, probably fatally.

Mrs Chook has lately had to care for her ageing mother and a sick brother. We have been thrust into a world of aged care facilities and hospitals, an area both of us have been free of for some time.

At the other end of the cycle, we regularly spend time with my youngest grandchild, to whom Mrs Chook is an honorary grandma. This gives both of us a satisfying sense of connection with the beginning and ending of life, of extremes we don’t understand, but that somehow fully ground us. Without each other, neither of us would do it half as well, I suspect. It seems to be our fate, for the time being, to stand by the others as they move into life or out of it.

I think it will be hard to see him helpless, he who was always vigorous. How he will hate his present predicament, if he has any awareness of it.

I have spent today with him. It’s terribly difficult to understand him as his speech is severely compromised. “Why are you here?” I think he said. “Because I love you,” I replied. “Aaaah,” he sighed, “take me to the Opera House.” “Not today,” I said, “but I’ll sing if you want.” “No, no, no!”

His food arrives. Baby mush, the same stuff I fed to my infant grandson two weeks ago. He rails at the nurse. “Not you! She’ll feed me! Her!” All goes well till dessert. “Not fucking apple sauce! I won’t have fucking apple sauce.”

That came out quite clear.

Then he cries. And cries. His body is so small now I can scoop him in my arms. These last weeks my arms have been filled with baby Archie, and now they are filled with him.

Then five minutes ago, a message that another new grandchild is on its way, and will arrive in the autumn.

Who could have known there would be so many tears?

This is what my arms are for. The beginning of life. The end of life. I am glad beyond words, that I have them.






50 Responses to “Who could have known there would be so many tears?”

  1. Mindy August 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    I am so sorry to read this. I hope it all works out, somehow. (((hugs)))


  2. MichaelaC August 15, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    Oh honey I’m so sorry. Thinking of you xxxx


  3. Christine Says Hi August 15, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    Lovely writing. Every best wish in this part of life …


  4. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) August 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    Suspected something bad had happened. I will explain things to The Dog by telepathy. By the time you return, He, The Dog, will understand.


  5. gerard oosterman August 15, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    And the rain my drink; (by Han Suyin)is the best I can come up with.


  6. doug quixote August 15, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Condolences, Jennifer.

    The tears fall, myriads of them.
    We came into the world screaming, and many of us will leave it screaming.
    The tears fall, myriads of them.
    It is what we do between the two lots of screams that matters,
    The tears fall, myriads of them.


  7. nickandrew August 15, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    Words fail me. I’m so sorry for your loss.


  8. Gruffbutt August 15, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    It’s times like these that I feel obliged to step out of the shadows.

    Wishing you and your loved ones strength, Jennifer.

    Sincerest hugs…


  9. hudsongodfrey August 16, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    I knew you’d be howling at the bastardry of the last few days’ politics had there not been something amiss.

    Love’s a funny dish, sometimes the appetiser’s the thing, sometimes the washing up. The meal itself lots of us find hard to digest but we manage somehow because we don’t have much choice.

    Your piece is beautifully evocative. You seem stronger somehow for what you’ve found in the past few days and happier for finding it. But this is perhaps the impression you prefer and where tears are involved how we seem and how we are is never quite the same thing. So I hope your fella mends as best he may before too long. And take good care of yourself.


    • Jennifer Wilson August 16, 2012 at 7:42 am #

      I am howling about this political bastardry, just unable to focus enough to make it a coherent howling, and not a chaotic primeval scream. It is appalling.I wish one of you would write something about it seeing as I can’t just now.

      There’ll be enough time for my tears when it’s over, but for now he needs my love, calm, focus and strength.
      Thanks, HG. I’ll take time to walk on Bondi Beach today, and refresh myself.


  10. paul walter August 16, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    Keep well. I don’t envy you just now.


  11. Ray (novelactivist) August 16, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    I wish you well. My mother was recently diagnosed with motor neuron disease. She is loosing the ability to speak. It is a steady decline to the inevitable, so every moment with her is precious.


  12. annodyne August 16, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    massive empathy from me. my ex lives outside AUS and has been gone 25 years 1 month and 7 days yet I would be devastated to hear of him in a similar situation. bless you both


    • Jennifer Wilson August 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

      Thank you. When you’ve been so close, I doubt it ever entirely ends.


  13. helvityni August 16, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    I thought something was wrong as we had not heard from you Jen…
    We spent a weekend in Brisbane only a couple weeks ago, the forty year son of a very good friend took his own life.
    Life’s not meant to easy, and as the Buddha says: dukkha (pain, misery) is…
    The memorial service was held at a Buddhist temple, beautiful, even very sad.


    • Jennifer Wilson August 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

      Oh, Helvi. But you are right, I am learning that there is so much beauty in this sorrow. I feel so lucky to be having this time with him, and for the times when he knows me and remembers us.


  14. Sam Jandwich August 16, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    My best wishes Jennifer.

    It’s funny, we human beings live just long enough to be able to glimpse immortality, that it almost seems like a rude interruption when something like this happens – even though fundamentally it’s the latter which defines and delineates us.

    Life is long, so make the most of every minute, regardless of where you find yourself.


    • Jennifer Wilson August 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

      I’m staying in Bondi Beach, where we spent much of our life together. I see him everywhere. I think there are a lot of elderly men thinking I fancy them, because anyone who looks at all like him I stare at.


  15. Hypocritophobe August 16, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    I am not sure whether you know ‘just’ how deeply you restore hope,or a strangers faith in humanity,but know this.
    You are a healer.Very much so.
    You’re a very generous and remarkable person,who inadvertently (or otherwise?)has allowed us to reflect on that which makes us human,simply by your engagement with an unselfish access to your heart.Your life.
    I hope you can understand that you have a rare gift which, whether secreted or shared, has a profound capacity to make a difference to those around you.
    By you,just being you, be it shouting,whispering or staying silent you have made a difference.One for the better.And for many.
    Remind your husband of the things he cherished.
    Let him stay, or go, under familiar terms…
    The magpies singing up much needed rain?
    Or the smell of freshly mown lawn in summer,perhaps the lemon scented gums after that rain?
    The tactile familiarity of your warm skin,by the campfire glow?
    A lusty swig of ice-cold, home-made ginger beer.
    A captured glint in mischief’s teasing eye….

    Thank-you,so much for helping us ‘re-feel’, by showing us what a ‘heart’ is, by wearing it on your sleeve.
    Our thoughts are with you.
    Go well….


    • Jennifer Wilson August 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

      Hypo, dearest Hypo. Thank you. Today I talked with him about a trip we made to Laos. How we sat on our back packs in a boat going down the Mekong that had no seats, for eight hours. Tomorrow I’ll show him photos of us. He said “It is wonderful that you’re here. Wonderful.”


      • Gruffbutt August 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

        It IS wonderful that you’re here, Jennifer.

        I wish to echo Hypocritophobe’s eloquent post.

        You give, and you deserve all the giving you can get at the moment.


  16. Darrell August 16, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Thanks for sharing all that Jennifer.. you do write so well about life…….. straight from the heart….. And, as mythologist Micheal Meade would say.. we all have a unqiue Fate & Destiny in this life it seems.. And, all of life.. in all it’s deepness.. eventually seeps into us.. if we can keep our hearts & minds open.. And, your writing about life.. certainly shows us all that…. And, of course we are all hear to stay open & break down all kinds of barriers, tabbos & boundaries in this world…. Well, at least, this is the ideal anyway……. taking us eventually back to the deep poetic sense of life’s great mystery.. once again….. ie. Life……………..

    While I also once again note the symbol for the Ascendant at this time.. at *2degSco.. From the book ‘An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformation & It’s 360 Symbolic Phases’ by Dane Rudhyar….

    A DELICATE BOTTLE OF PERFUME LIES BROKEN, RELEASING ITS FRAGRANCE.. The accidental nature of opportunities that impel one to break away from a past, the remembrance of which is still poignant & cherished.. This second stage symbol contrasts with the first in that it reveals the difficulty of dealing with the past as one enters into a new realm of feelings.. To the excitement of novelty answers the memory of the graciousness of the past one has surrendered.. SURRENDERED…


    • Jennifer Wilson August 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

      It’s interesting, Darrell, I do have a sense that I need to accept the situation which I suppose is surrender.


  17. boeufblogginon August 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Dearest Jennifer,

    I am so sorry to hear of the sadness you are going through at this time. I know these next months will be difficult for you and your family. Please know that there are people who have come to care about your welfare.

    My thoughts are with you.

    Joan Evatt.


  18. DeeEmmDee (@DebinMelbourne) August 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    Lovely, intelligent, compassionate Jennifer,

    Our lives and others wax and wane with joy and sadness. Hugs for you and your family during this time.


  19. Hypocritophobe August 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    Here’s something I stumbled on this arvo.Long after my post.



  20. Julia August 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    So sorry Jennifer. Such a hard thing for you and for him.
    I wish I had Hypo’s eloquence, yet can but echo her words, nodding in complete agreement.
    You are beautiful, Jennifer. So caring. So giving. So very much loved.
    If only I could wrap my arms around you. Give you comfort in your pain.
    Be strong for him, yet remember to look after yourself too.

    I’m thinking of you.

    Very warm gentle hugs.


    • helvityni August 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

      …and you, Julia, are so gentle 🙂


    • Jennifer Wilson August 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

      Lovely, thank you so much Julia.


  21. Smith Powell August 17, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    My best to you in a trying time. There is so much to say; but words fail me. Just know, and the many comments confirm, that there are many who lend their comfort as I do.


  22. Ms Praxis (@MsPraxis) August 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Oh Jennifer. My heart aches for you, for all of you. You have written about it so beautifully, too. At risk of getting all Lion King on yo’ ass, I can’t help thinking of that damned circle of life. Here’s hoping there’s more than one more lap of the dancefloor for you both. xxx


    • Jennifer Wilson August 17, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

      Thank you so much, Ms Praxis. There won’t be any dancing, but just having this time together is miraculous really.


  23. ItsBouquet August 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm #


    So much beauty in your words in a time of sorrow (and hope).

    Wish you the best.


  24. Ron Savage August 18, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Hi Jennifer

    This is horrible news. Please count me in as one of your ‘cloud support group’.



  25. doug quixote August 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    To Jennifer and the girls here, in particular :


    PS I just like chocolate!



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