So said my dear friend Maryanne when I told her my husband wanted to separate and had a girlfriend. Not a very nice thing to say. But, Maryanne simply has no filter between her mind and her mouth which is part of what makes her so endearing. She just says whatever she wants.
Maryanne has a severely disabled daughter who is 21 years old, can’t walk, toilet, or feed herself. She is like a full grown infant. She frequently has grand mal seizures when her medication fails. She was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy. Maryanne and her husband have dedicated their lives to caring for their daughter. They not only tend to her basic needs. They take her on vacation, swimming in the ocean, to dance classes, and make sure she has stimulating and enriching programs to attend daily. They have never thought about placing her in an institution for care as many in their situation do. They have risen to the occasion brilliantly.
They have two older children who require parental attention as well. In addition, they have had serious medical issues of their own.
When Maryanne was 37 years old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. There was no family history. Her children were very young. She had a double mastectomy, hysterectomy, radiation, chemotherapy, and reconstructive surgery. She has been cancer free for over 10 years. Her husband had a stroke and went into cardiac arrest. He has been able to return to work and helps care for their daughter. They are some of the most resilient, compassionate people I know.
When I met Maryanne she was very curious about my disablity. She was particularly equipped to understand what is going on with me. I am ambulatory, but limp and carry a cane. My left hand is nearly useless. She doesn’t see me as disabled, and is always amazed at what I can do. I am continually impressed by what she deals with everyday. We each have a unique perspective and appeciation for our lives.
Three years ago I told Maryanne that I was having trouble with my husband because he was having a hard time adjusting to living with me and my disability. It appeared from the outside that we were fine as we went on vacations and out on dates. No one saw the disconnect.
It came to pass that my husband needed to separate and started to see other women. I wanted to figure out how we could stay together, but it was not to be. Maryanne couldn’t understand what his problem was exactly. I suppose it isn’t possible to actually put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. In her view, I was everything a man could want, and just happened to limp. I don’t appear to be a burden, especially to someone like Maryanne who deals with genuine difficulty every day.
As the marriage came apart, she also told me “I hope he has a horrible future.” These comments may sound mean spirited, but to me they are a reflection of how much my friend loves me. I love her for saying out loud what many were thinking but were too polite to say.
One last thing…
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