Strength

I have had several transformative conversations with my wife recently. One had to do with strength. She wanted to know why I have it, and what well I am drawing from.

You see, my wife is very, very sick. Her situation has gotten serious, and we are now trying to figure this out. In the process, my resolve has been tested, that’s for sure. I will say, amazingly, that I am holding my own. I do cry a lot. I won’t lie about that. However, crying is not necessarily so bad. I am kind of getting used to it.

Anyway, I used to have a pretty pat answer for the question of where my strength comes from: God of course!. Now, I am not so sure.

It is kind of like prayer. I pray a lot these days. I guess it goes with the territory of being a spouse of someone who is seriously ill. Oddly, in the process, I have kind of figured out why prayer works, and what religion is all about, at least for me.

You see, to me at least, prayer is not for God. Prayer is actually for me.

Since I have lived in a state of total doubt for some time now, I am not sure if God even hears my prayers. That’s another one: My wife asked me recently why God was a mystery. (I replied: “Wait! I know this one!”) Eventually, I did come up with the answer: Since God is completely unknowable, He / She is a complete mystery. Every experience I have ever had with God (and believe me, I have had some doozies) has been completely subjective. I mean, how can I be sure that my subconscious mind didn’t simply make it all up?

You get the idea. Since I don’t have much of what religious folks would call faith (which I regard as uncritically believing¬† propositions that are at best harmless lies), it may surprise you that I pray. But, again, I realize now that prayer is not for God. It is for me.

You see, when I pray for my wife, I let go of the problem a little. Since this is a problem over which I have absolutely no direct control (much as I would like to!), I simply must let go or I will take the problem onto myself. Therein lies the path which I cannot tread.

So, in a sense, I need divine help and guidance. I need the Strength of The Goddess. I rely on Her now. Even if I am not sure She hears me.

More later.

Dead Already

When my family and I traveled to Cozumel one year for a much-needed family vacation, I carried the book Shadow Divers by John Kurson. This book describes an incredible dive performed by Richie Kohler and John Chatterton to identify a German U-Boat off the coast of New Jersey. One of the divers was a Vietnam veteran, and described the set of rules for life which he developed while in Vietnam. I don’t remember them all (except that they were excellent), but one of them deeply affected me. This is the gist:

There is no force in the universe more powerful than a human being who knows he or she is already dead, and thus has nothing left to lose.

I found this transformational, you see, because I have been very, very ill, and at times was completely convinced that I was dying. I have psoriasis, which is pretty serious, but mostly not life threatening. However, I became very severe in 2012, and thus was in a lot of pain, and definitely not doing well. I will not belabor you with the gory details, but suffice it to say, I was in very bad shape at that time.

I am fine now, thank God. There are several reasons for this, one of which is my loving and beautiful wife who never ceased to pray and fight for me. Ultimately, I was able to find a treatment which has been remarkably effective, and I am now about 90% improved. In the autoimmunity world, this is called remission.

My son made an interesting statement to me recently: He said of all people, I should be the most happy, because I have cheated death. I have come to the edge of the abyss and backed away from it. I have looked the grim reaper in the eye and spit in his face. You get the idea.

I find that happy is not the word I would use to describe the experience. Certainly, I am grateful. I live in a state of continuous thankfulness. I give thanks for each and every breath I take, because I am aware that each breath is a gift.

Now, I am watching my wife go through a similar journey. I must admit that I find her courage inspiring. Yet I also desperately wish that it could be me, not her, that is sick. No matter. I simply have to be there for her now. She was there for me, after all.

In the end, there is nothing else. All we have is each other.