There was a story in the Washington Post yesterday that rattled me. A young mother was bringing five of her six children home from swim practice at a swim club that we used to belong to and her car was hit by a large tree branch. The mother and one of her daughters were killed instantly. I knew this woman. Years ago, when we belonged to that swim club, I chatted with her on several occasions, and I remember her as both vivacious and intelligent. Her passing, makes me think of my fear of dying.
It is something that I still think about even though I am almost two years out from my diagnosis. Since my children are so young, I know that they would need a mother if I were to die. I also know that my husband is an efficient and matter of fact kind of guy and he too would quickly realize that his children would need a woman's nurturing. He knows that he knows about five percent of what I do on a daily basis and he would be pretty much lost without my help. I am pretty sure that he would find it difficult to juggle two kids by himself and working full time(even though many women I know do just that). When I ask him what he would do if I were to die he responds, "I would never remarry." I really don't believe him.
I look around at all of the women I know and I try to figure out who he would marry. Would he find a widow who has lost a husband to cancer to be my replacement? I can hear the conversation in my head. "Oh, I know how you and your children feel. My children had a difficult time too but we are getting through." There would be a common ground established and he would be comforted by that. Or maybe it would be the younger, attractive PhD who doesn't have her own children but shares his interest in neuroscience research. "They are so precious." She might say, not knowing how much work they require. "I would love to take them to the zoo." I can go on and on with scenarios in my head.
Perhaps it might seem a little bit morbid to think of these things, but I can't help myself. It is the inevitability of life that we all die. Some of us have had to look our mortality straight in the eye and figure out how we feel about it. I, of course, worry about being replaced and not remembered. I don't think that I am unusual in that respect.
I do know that my relationship with my husband is stronger than it was before I got sick. What didn't kill me, did make us stronger. We are kinder and gentler with each other and a little more forgiving of each others faults. We try very hard to work as a team and parent together rather than in opposition to each other. He gets that I need more rest than I ever did in order to ensure that I stay healthy and puts the children to bed most nights. We are better than we used to be.
So, I think of this poor father left to parent five children and to deal with his sadness over the loss of his wife. I am sure they will all make it through one way or another. Inevitably he may marry someone else and she will become a faded memory to her children. It happens. Life will go on.