Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Knock knock. Who's there? DEATH.

In a parallel-dimension I must be Betazoid.  Holy fuck - my empathetic core is in hyper-drive tonight.

David's Dad died unexpectedly this past summer.  On our 17th wedding anniversary, as we made our way into Manhattan to make some dreams come true, we got a text from his brother telling us that his Dad, John, was on his way to Toronto General Hospital, in liver failure.  David flew back that night.  About 60 hours later, John was dead, the victim of accidental Tylenol poisoning.

While David was in Toronto with his brother, step-mother and step-siblings, I remained in Manhattan, prepping our show for a New York theatre festival.  The afternoon we got the news that John had fallen ill, we were heading into the city to start tech week.

A couple of times in my life I've experienced the "Show Must Go On" phenomenon.  In 1995, while on a Canadian National Fringe tour, one of my grandfathers died.  I was in the middle of the Prairies. On tour.  Unable to hold my Mom's hand.

This summer, when my husband needed me most in his life, I was a day's drive away, making sure the show would go on.  And John?  John would have been leading the "Show Must Go On" mantra.  He was a true theatre lover, with the heart of an impresario.  How he loved the stage.  He was so proud of the work that David did in theatre, the work that I did.  John would have been the first one to smack me upside the head if I'd abandoned our production... But still... my husband was holding his comatose father's hand in a sterile hospital room and I was...  in Manhattan, directing a vampire rock opera.

Tonight I'm thinking of my mother-in-law, John's widow.  Today, almost 6 months to the day since John died, she said goodbye to her own father who passed away from Alzheimer's. No, let's not sugar coat that.  He fucking died. Last summer, when John fell ill, they were in the midst of a basement renovation, so that her parents could have a suite where they'd have family close by.  Her father was only there about a month before his illness incapacitated him and he needed full-time care.  Today, he died.  So in the space of 6 months, she has had to say goodbye to two men in her life whom she loved unreservedly.

So I'm hear to say, DEATH - you suck.  Seriously.  You couldn't give her a break?  You couldn't have allowed her more time to breathe?  And here the rest of us are - offering bland platitudes - expressing our love and support and sorrow...  We will sign sympathy cards, make donations to his favourite charities, tamp down the true pain of it.  And it all fucking sucks.

And because I'm empathetic - when I stop to think of any of this, really THINK of it, I have chest pains.  Nausea churns in my stomach.  I didn't know her father all that well.  But I know her, and it fucking sucks that she has to deal with this shit.  Her husband died accidentally at the age of 68 and her father, who until recently had been in good health, had his mind and his life ripped from him by Alzheimer's.

And here I sit, scattering tissues beside the laptop, ineffectually wiping at tears.  And I don't have the right to this sorrow.  I didn't love those men the way that she did.   But I love her, and I want to vomit the pain of it out for her - so that she can move on.

So DEATH, if you've got any sense of balance, please cut her some slack.  Put your fucking scythe down and let her have a chance to regroup.  I can deal with the emotional shit for a bit.  Please.

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