Let me tell you a little story about when a woman loves. And I’m not talking about that melodramatic kind that fuels off insecurities and is easily mistaken as “passion”. The ones who obsessively text and call 99 gazillion times to show that she loves you. I’m not talking about the love of wives portrayed on reality shows. Then angry ones, the criers. That’s a whole other level of “love” I’m not going to get into.
I’m talking about the ones who love for real. The ones who hold back their tears and face each day with their heads held high. The ones who pack you diapers, Boost Plus supplements, snacks and insulin every time you leave the house. The ones who bathe you, dress you, feed you and stay by your side just so you never have to know what it feels like to be alone. The ones who give up their lives. I’m talking about the ones who watch you lose yourself, but stay. The ones who are suffering, but stay. The ones exerting every ounce of their physical, mental and emotional strengths but find a way to recharge by morning.
She’s the wife of a Vietnam War Veteran suffering from Alzheimer’s. They met when she was 18, he was 21 and fresh out of the service. She was the secretary where he got a job. She pulled out a large, rectangular shadow box she made for him filled with his medals and photos. “Now isn’t he the most handsome Navy Seal you’ve ever seen?” she asked. She remains so madly in love with him. I could tell by the tone in her voice, the tears in her eyes.
She was giving it her all, this “War Wife”. She had her own health issues, grandchildren to watch over, a house to upkeep, a social life to maintain…but she always put him first. Without question, without hesitation. This man…this Veteran…is less than a fraction of who he once was. “No I don’t. Milk. It’s milk”, he would inappropriately interject. We weren’t talking about milk, but she would calmly agree with him anyway. To show that she still hears him, still understands him. And he would carry on shining his black Velcro shoes with a spoon.
“Of course I want him to live for a long time, but not like this”, she admitted. I heard her heart crack when she said this, as much as I felt the overwhelming weight of guilt as she said it. I admired her for saying this. Because it takes a strong woman to love that intensely but also know when to let go.
Today I witnessed the immensity of a woman’s love. It was 16 degrees Fahrenheit with a negative 24-degree windchill. In a picture perfect brick home in the countryside of Michigan. It…was a Friday.