There was a sixty-something man who was diagnosed with brain cancer. He and his wife were apart because he works abroad while his wife took care of their family. One day, he was brought home because he had been experiencing some symptoms which led to his being diagnosed with brain cancer.
The patient went through a rather turbulent course. His symptoms made him debilitated to the point that he was bedridden. His wife unselfishly and patiently took care of him. Every time I would see the patient, his wife was always at his side feeding him, changing his clothes, adjusting whatever needs to be to make him comfortable. Many many times I had to tell her that she needed to sleep, rest and relax because her body was showing signs of exhaustion. But despite this, she always managed to draw the energy to attend to his needs. I was amazed to see how dedicated she was. I don’t know how to accurately describe it but her love for her husband was so palpable and heartwarming every time I visited them.
One day, I had really terrible news to deliver. It was one of the most difficult breaking of bad news that I had to do because I couldn’t bear how this woman might receive the news. As I told her, she calmly listened and naturally, tears started rolling down her cheeks. She was not hysterical but was quite calm. Later on, she broke down into a sob. She told me that she was an adopted child. Her adoptive parents took really good care of her but it was only with her husband that she truly experienced being loved. At that moment, I could sense all her emotions, sincerity and pain as she spoke those words. She told me that it would be extremely painful but that she will try to accept.
Several weeks after our conversation, her husband succumbed and that was the last time I saw her.
Six months later, while I was at the emergency room, a lady approached me whom I couldn’t remember at first. She introduced herself and told me that she was one of the relatives of the couple above. So I naturally asked her how the wife was doing. Her face changed and she told me that a few months after her husband died, she was diagnosed with a terrible illness and died within a few months of being diagnosed. I froze in shock because despite her exhaustion, she did not manifest any sign of being ill at the time that she was taking care of her husband.
She has defied their vow and joined her husband soon after he left.
I have encountered this phenomenon a few times in my practice. The spouse who was left behind often would follow within a year or two of the other spouse’s death. Same thing happened to Christopher and Dana Reeves. Who would have thought that she will be diagnosed with lung cancer?
Their love have defied all odds.