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 26: The Arc of Love 2: “I now understand that I am the other half of that which makes us—Susan and me complete. And when else in our lives is it more important to be whole than when OUR body is badly broken.” The Actual Dance
Two days ago I talked about “the arc of love.” I have already said that “I don’t think two twenty-year-old kids understood what love really means.” It took this journey with Susan through her brush with death that taught me what love “really” means. It happened though in steps.
It took for me the stark recognition that I was going to have to hold this woman I met at 19 years old, married, raised two children with and lived with for 35 years – I was going to have to hold her in my arms as she took her last breath.
I came to understand several things. One, we had become something different than when we first met and “fell in love.” From two souls and two people, we had become one in heart and soul. I now experienced Susan as part of me. I think most often about our kisses and in the process absorbing her breath into me and me into her. We are spiritually one. “I am the other half of that which makes us complete.” Is the line in the play.
When it became apparent I was going to have to find a way to hold Susan as she took her last breath I sought help from our Rabbi – I wrote about that a few days ago. I asked, I pleaded: “How, how, how can I dance the last, The Actual Dance” with Susan – the woman who has become the other half of my whole?
The Rabbi didn’t hear me that night. She was in a rush to get out and instead of trying to answer that question – though I wonder if anyone could really; she tried to empathize with me. "You feel sad she won't be able to see the grandkids grow up?" It didn’t work. I need something more. So, I made an appointment a psychiatrist who I had been seeing off and on for the past twenty years. That’s for tomorrow.
Stat of the Day: Survival rate for female breast cancer after 5 years is only 88.6% according to the CDC latest data. And even less –79.6% -- for African American women!
Task of the Day. Whatever day it is—take some time to go back over the mementos of your relationship. I spent time looking through the scrap books, the wedding photos and other memories with Susan that year. Not even with her. But for me. I reminded me of the good times, and often the reasons I loved her.
Resource of the Day: Check out this explanation of “anticipatory grief” The journey with a loved one whom you expect to lose is often described this way – and it is different than the grief you have after someone is gone.
The Actual Dance: Performances Donate