Her death has set us free

Mary called this morning in the middle of breakfast. “Barbie passed on early this morning” she said in her controlled, matter-of-fact voice.

“Good” I said without thinking.

Later, upon reflection, I realized how good it felt that I (and perhaps we, her husband, caregivers and family) knew that Barbie’s death had finally come and we were set free from the agony of waiting, watching and wondering. Barbie’s illness had come upon her rather quickly and was in an advanced stage when discovered. The efforts that she and my brother were willing to go through in combating a very serious disease — stage 4 cancer — with her reduced ability to handle any sorts of treatment were panicked at best.

This was further exacerbated by their faith community which did feverish chanting, praying, laying of hands and posting of scripture passages to bring about healing in the face of inevitable death. It was about as effective as laying of hands on the Titanic after it struck the iceberg.Ironically, Barbie’s service is set for April 14, the day that the Titanic went down. It’s also the day Lincoln was shot. But, I digress.

Barbie came across to some as a sweet person. But she was also pretty willful. She would go off to Washington, her home state, at great stretches of time, leaving Ken behind to fend for himself. She pushed hard to relocate to Sun City to be close to friends even though Ken was loath to spend money to purchase a new house. Ken wound up doing a lot for her grown children, even to the point of claiming the grandchildren for himself. He traveled to Europe with Barbie, which he never would have done on his own.

Barbie was good for Ken in so many ways. He seems to have stopped drinking; well, at least drinking in excess as in days of yore. We’ll see what happens now.

Ken didn’t tell Barbie about my HIV+ diagnosis when I informed the family back in 2015. She found out when she took me to her dentist and, at that visit in Sun City  they declined to accept me as a patient due to my status. She was shocked, to say the least. Why Ken didn’t tell her, I don’t know. Embarrassed?

Ken, Mary and their band of supporters in their Evangelical church seem to have drawn a tight band around them that does not permit admittance for people like me. It always creeps me out when I drive out to Sun City and see their campaign posters for a special election to replace the right wing nut who had to resign because he propositioned one of his staff to make a baby with him. Candidates were crowing that they had support of Arpaio and Trump. YIKES! Mary’s closing remarks to me were polite and perfunctory, especially when she thanked me for my prayers. Never, in Barbie’s entire illness, did I express that I was saying prayers for her or Ken. I brought flowers, I sent a booklet Gone From my Sight, an essay about cancer cells reacting differently depending on people’s internal make up, and one card about courage but I never said “you’re in my thoughts and prayers.”

But Barbie was in my thoughts last night as I was trying to go back to sleep after getting up to pee. I sent her a thought wish that said “It’s ok, Barbie, you can go. We’ll take care of Ken and your family. Everything is alright. You can go.”

And so she has. And we are free.


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