The Actual Dance is a play that presents the events of the year 2000 from the point of view of the spouse of the woman going through breast cancer. From diagnosis to her life as a survivor, Susan Simon, my wife has endured. An unlikely survivor. The Actual Dance is the story of that experience from my perch. The husband. This the 4th year of my October daily blogs, my focus is a bit more on myself
Day 19: The Unimaginable “I am afraid of these… . I don’t even know what to call them. Visions? Dreams? Out-of-body experiences? I don’t what’s going on with me. I am afraid that I cannot continue what I am doing. I cannot imagine that I can do what I know I have to do.”
I like to say that the play, The Actual Dance, is about a lot of different things. One of them, though, is facing an existential crisis. Being with the person you love most in the world as she takes her last breath. It is the heart of the play. It is the role of that love partner – the husband or man in these blogs. It is about confronting the unimaginable – holding the person you love most in the world – the other half-of-her whole in that moment.
What are the characteristics of the unimaginable? For me it involved escaping the “real world” – that metaphorical place called The Ballroom. When things become too unbearable I leave the present reality into a different dimension in the universe –a place for me called the Ballroom. I never say it in the play, but there is an existential comfort in this place. I can picture the ballroom, large with very, very high ceilings. I think in fact those ceilings might be either retractable or perhaps made of a substance that becomes translucent and permeable. Because at some point the soul and body of Susan is going to leave my arms and travel through into a bright light.
This was real for me. I would go to The Ballroom as the news became grim and the journey “unimaginable.”
I also did some other things. For today, I am simply acknowledging the terror of “the other person in the room” – the love mate can experience.
Stat of the Day: It is hard to find recent data of the divorce rate among breast cancer patient families, particularly associated with the diagnosis. What is most important to know though is that there is an impact on the relationship and in addition to the cancer treatment, the relationship needs care. This article claims that 50% of marriages that involve cancer break-up, which is not cited, and still gives some solid relationship advice.
Task of the Day: Spend some time focusing on your own – you the love-mate – spiritual care. If your partner is in the hospital check out the chaplain or the chapel. Spend some time in the chapel for yourself. Or if you are at home consider taking some time alone in a meaningful place – a walk, a church or synagogue or perhaps just sitting in the den listening to music.
Resource of the Day: A message for husbands from a wife -- I love this blog post by the woman with breast cancer about her husband.
The Actual Dance: Performances Donate