Simple things get us. Stupid, silly things send us spiraling down to where we can only stand in place and sob. Tonight, as I was putting away the dishes from the dishwasher, I was thinking how I never had any doubts about Kim when we were dating. I never had to guess if my feelings for her were reciprocated. And then, picking up a packet of graham crackers that she had received during one of her chemo visits to throw away, I broke. “She loved me, and I ruined her,” I sobbed. And “How could this have happened to her.”
In analyzing my feelings after recovering myself, I find the first lament is related to her alcoholism. No matter how much I’ve read and have been told that an alcoholic is the only one responsible for their alcoholism, I cannot help but think that I had a big hand in triggering its onset. The time away from home for my job had to be incredibly hard on her. My response to emotional displays – to clam up and run away – was likely another. My manner of focusing so keenly on tasks to the exclusion of all external input is another. I know she was jealous of some of the women who worked around me in our early years, too – having an absentee husband can play havoc on a woman’s mind. But, again, I remained faithful to her through the whole time, and she remained married to me – feats that many of my contemporaries and their wives did not achieve.
The second lament is similar to something I voiced to her shortly after her diagnosis: things like this aren’t supposed to happen to us. We were to grow old together, getting along through retirement as our parents did before us.
And the lever that opened the floodgates was a simple packet of graham crackers…