“There’s a limit to your love/like a water fall in slow motion/Like a map with no ocean/There’s a limit to your love”
I’ve always loved these lyrics. But today I witnessed first hand that actually there is in fact NO limit to the love, only a limit to how much one is able to watch the ones they love endure.
Today is my Nan and Granddad’s 57th wedding anniversary. As he is nearly completely bed ridden with all efforts dedicated to fighting the pain from the cancer penetrating his bones after a 5 year fight with prostate cancer, it was not possible for him to get out to the shop to buy a card or flowers for the wife who is serving as his primary care giver. My beautiful aunts who know the deep bond between their parents, organized cards for them to write each other in secret and a bouquet of flowers for my Granddad to give to my Nan.
So after dinner, five of us piled into the crowded bedroom where my Granddad had been sitting all day propped up with pillows and the Saturday edition of the Times paper. A bottle of champagne was popped, a toast was made and these two lovebirds exchanged cards and kisses so sweet and pure. They made me yearn for a marriage as successful, long and loving as theirs. My Nanna fought back the tears, like she must do all day everyday, and was visibly full of so many emotions: love, grief, worry, pride, gratitude, anger, and fear to name but a few.
We should all be so lucky to have this kind of sacred, limitless unconditional love. In the age of urgency and judgment, to see two people who have lived their life and built their family with nothing but the authentic desire to co-create it is disturbing and almost cruel to watch them slowly be pulled apart by this disease. How big must your heart be after 57 years of nights slept side by side? So how much more does it break? Does anything in life ever prepare you to lose your beloved?
I am staying with my Aunt who lost her husband almost exactly one year ago also to cancer. It must be very difficult for her to see this disease unfold yet again and claim another life, another love. My uncle was a pure soul and he loved his wife and family with the full capacity of his abundant heart. His eyes were spotless windows to what a clear human spirit looks like. His final months we devastatingly painful and dragged out; he fought to the very end. It was reflective of the man he was to want to soldier on, but no human being should have to suffer the way he did. I think what pains my Aunt most when she speaks of him is not how much she misses him (which I know is very much and all the time) but of how he suffered for so long and how despite her great care and efforts she could not take his pain away.
Isn’t that all we ever want to do for those we love? Take away their pain?
Today the sink was clogged at my Nan and Granddad’s. Knowing absolutely NOTHING about plumbing (and being generally shit when it comes to anything “handy”) I was over come with a determination to fix it. And two hours later when that stupid little drain made that gross little gurgle-ey burping sound and the water flowed down, my Nanna and I rejoiced! As if somehow this small victory meant for but a moment, we were winning.
And then its back to my Granddad in the bedroom, to the evening pills, the codeine, the morphine patch, the bathroom assistance, the unbearable pain, the confusing daydreams, the fear of what the night will bring.
Death is a part of life; I am understanding and accepting it more and more. But this universal experience that is the only certain thing that we all will share, never ceases to unveil our attachments to those we love. Buddhists believe that life is suffering and that the root of suffering is attachment; therefore, achieving enlightenment means releasing attachment to things, ideas, hopes, cravings, and even people. Spiritual ascension is my favourite hobby… but I promise nothing less than to love with the full ferocity of my being. And if that impedes my progress towards that Bodhi Tree in the sky then I guess I’ll have to release my attachment to THAT dream because as I embark on the journey of marriage and I see my potential future mirrored in the life, love and inevitable loss my grandparents are experiencing I can’t think of any journey more enlightening than the pursuit of this deep state of true and total love.
I celebrate love and I celebrate today especially, the sacred and bittersweet magic of the humanness that wants to entwine us: mind, body and soul. Let us weep and wail for the love we’ve been so privileged to have lived. And let us have respect for the elders before us who have walked the often very difficult path of knowing another human in the context of marriage. Blessings be, to the hooks we have in each other that have grown out of the desire to merge and be united as one.
Happy Anniversary Nan and Granddad, you are my heroes now and forever.