The Captain and I spent yesterday at a funeral. One of the Captain's dearest friends, a woman he's known since high school, lost her sister. She comes from a family of seven children, and she and her sister were the only girls; the bookends to all the boys. Her sister was 56 years old. Her parents are 86 and 83. It is a horrible perversion to outlive your children.
We asked our friend how her parents were holding up, as if there could be an answer that encapsulates the devastation of burying one's child. She said they were fine, in the way that all Irish Catholics are fine with death. She added, "I don't want to be fine anymore."
Our friend's sister had been awaiting a liver transplant, but her body deteriorated to the point that she was removed from the transplant list. We did not even know she was sick. Our friend was the person responsible for making her sister's medical care decisions, and in the end, she had to give the order to remove her sister from life support. I cannot imagine how heartrending that must have been for her.
In that moment our friend realized she didn't want to be alone in her pain any longer. She was struggling with the knowledge that her sister had been sick, and didn't reach out to her family in time for them to help her. Our friend didn't want to be an Irish Catholic stoic and soldier on, deflecting her grief with humor. So she sent an email to her nearby friends, and let them come to her. She told us, "I want to stay connected to the people I love, and I want to let them love me."
Our conversation resonated with me. The Captain jokes that he never saw me cry until after we were married, when, ostensibly, I should have been my happiest. And indeed, I am more open with my feelings now than when I was younger. But I still prefer to keep my internal struggles to myself, mostly because I can't think of anyone who is more qualified to solve them. In fact, on most subjects, I'm 98% sure I know best. These include: my marriage; my children; my physical well-being; my emotional well-being; your marriage; your physical well-being; your emotional well-being; and in general, the political and humanitarian needs of the world. I'm not looking for input, or support, very often. An outside observer might consider me myopic, or self-centered. I prefer capable, and strong.
But, as you know, no woman is an island. Life is brief, and precious. It's important to reach out and maintain relationships with the people that matter to us. It's okay to ask for help. I can't guarantee I'll overcome my stubborn independent streak, but I might try to become more of a peninsula. Connected to the larger whole, but not land-locked. I could have more fluid borders. Do you?