The First Time I Faced My Love’s Mortality

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At age 22 I had my life planned out. My personal, I must highlight, not my professional one. Even though I was close to completing my undergrad degree had no idea what my career path would be but I knew I would be married and pregnant by 28. I had the name for the child picked, Itumeleng Rafael, regardless of its gender. I had nicknames picked and it was already decided that Itumeleng Rafael would have no siblings.

I conveniently had a man who shared my dreams and added his beautiful visions to them. He had a sense of humour and made me feel comfortable enough to be me. As we sat visioning our future I knew he would be the perfect father. Absolutely nothing could go wrong. I thought.

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Years ticked away and the name of our future child still felt perfect. As we grew as a couple we felt we were ready for Tumi I but was always adamant on waiting until 27, for when we would be more financially secure.

Then as I reached 26 the cracks in my vision began to show. It was our first year working. We had made the huge leap into independence, moved to a new town and we were crawling our way to stability. My love’s head began to shake involuntarily. We blamed it on stress, reasoned that the move must have had a toll on him. I willed him to calm down and not to stress. The head refused to listen. Pills were taken to control the shaking but the relief was temporary and always short lived.

One day he fainted whilst in the boy’s room. He woke up a bit rattled with no idea how close his head had been to the glass door that now lay on the floor shattered by his elbow.

Several tests and doctors later, the diagnosis was devastating. He was given five years to live. “There is absolutely nothing we can do” the doctor said in what I know should have been an empathetic tone.

I tried to deny it. I pretended that I never heard the diagnosis. I went on living, pretending that nothing had changed. But blood oozing out of his ear one day reminded me of the gross reality that I could no longer pretend to ignore.

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I am the worst comforter, I cry more than he does. I know that he might be better off without me. I always want to talk about it and I know he sometimes does not want to think about his mortality. Every second of my life is spent thinking of the dire reality. Plus I have no one to talk to about this as he does not feel he is ready. I told my parents whose Christian rhetoric did not offer me any comfort or consolation.

There are many questions whizzing through my head. How do I learn to cope with the physical and psychological changes? How do I become a better comforter? Do I continue with the wedding plans and the making of Tumi? The future is in tatters and I do not know what to do.

I have never even been to a funeral before. This is only my first time to deal with mortality and I feel ill equipped.

4 thoughts on “The First Time I Faced My Love’s Mortality

  1. I am so saddened by your story, and sorry that you are having to go through this. I cannot relate to losing someone so important to you, but I can relate to the terror of having your plans for your life ripped away from you and the recovery process is almost impossible (I found out over a year ago that I can’t have children and still cry about it most days). The only thing I can say really is that you’ll be surprised how much you can take and that you should try to see a therapist regularly.

    Again, I can’t imagine the pain of losing someone you love. But from the perspective of someone who thought she was dying, having that person around is more important than anything, even if sometimes it does make it harder.

    I hope that some time in the future you learn to hope and find happiness again until then I hope you let people around you support you and give you the strength to get through each day. Thank you for sharing your story, it must have been very difficult to do.

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  2. firstly, thank you for sharing. I got goosebumps reading your story, and am thinking of you.
    I’ve faced a similar choice, and the wise words of my mother – grab what you can with both hands, live every moment of what you have to the fullest, the future will come when it does.
    That’s not to say that there will not be this period of shock, dismay, anger, loss (even if only of your imagined future) grief, blame, wondering, resistance, denial and just trying to figure out WTF! just happened here. Your whole trajectory, your story of your life, identity & future has just been interrupted.
    So, if I may offer some advice, let yourself feel it all, it will pass, or at least become more familiar. As to which path to take, that’s up to you. I’m standing by the words of my mother, not in denial of the future death of my partner, but from the perspective that you actually can’t tell the future, in reality, we have no real idea of what’s next, whether you’ll walk out of your dwelling tomorrow or not, we just imagine…

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  3. I’ve always wondered if it were worse – to know a loved one of yours were going to die and still have time to say your goodbyes, and prepare for their end to come, or to have your loved one pass away without even having the chance to exchange goodbyes with them and to let them know that you love them, which you haven’t said out loud for the past decade. I went through the latter with my father, and even though I may not know which is worse, I know it all hurts.
    To even think about the fact that they are going to leave you – not in say another thirty, forty, fifty years time, but now, in the present future where you have planned your life out with them for the next five years at least, I know how much it hurts. But you still have some time. Treasure that time. Truly treasure it. I didn’t get the chance to. How I wish I even had just one more day. Don’t spend your time wilting away, thinking about how he’s going to go.
    The road ahead, after he goes will be tough, but right now, the present – that’s what you should treasure. Don’t worry about the funeral now. You’ll have help from your parents then. Live the life you want to live. Worry about the future later. Don’t ignore his sickness, but look past it. Treasure him. Love him. Make the last years he has, the happiest you’ll have with him. I can’t tell you how to be a better comforter – I can only tell you that it is okay to cry, but you have to smile too. You need to give him strength with your smile. Smile more than you cry. Every time you cry, make up for it with a smile.
    You never know what the future may bring – things may not go the way the doctors have said, but we’ll never know until then. Just try your best to be strong. Cry, but smile. Love him. That’s all I can say. Take care.

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