Ben and Marilyn
Ben and Marilyn met and fell in love in Boston. They promised to love each other in sickness and in health for as long as they both lived. Five years of blissful love passed. Ben managed a real estate firm with his dad, and Marilyn was a second grade school teacher. They loved each other beyond reason, but try as they might, they were unable to have the children they both so desperately wanted. Going from doctor to doctor, Marilyn soon discovered she had ovarian cancer. Ben was devastated and took a leave from work to be by Marilyn's side through all the surgery, chemotherapy and pain through which she suffered. After a year of unending illness, Ben found it increasingly difficult to witness Marilyn's pain. So, he hired a live-in nurse to take care of Marilyn so that he could return to work. The nurse made it possible for him to spend long hours making up for lost time at work. He felt empty inside and longed to have the Marilyn he loved back in his life. Not the bald, critically ill woman who spent half her time being angry or ill. He soon started to notice the new, young employee that his dad had hired to help out around the office in Ben's absence, but he fought against the attraction.
Marilyn's illness worsened. The cancer was winning, and Ben couldn't bear it. Soon, he began to flirt with the young woman in his office. That led to drinks and dinner and finally an affair. It took his mind away from what he had lost and the anger he felt at Marilyn for getting sick. He knew it was unreasonable, but he couldn't help himself. As Marilyn worsened, Ben spent more time away from home. He was with his new mistress when Marilyn passed away with only her nurse and her parents by her side. And, when Ben learned of Marilyn's passing, he only felt relief and sorrow for himself.
Sam and Jane
Sam and Jane met and fell in love in Chicago. They promised to love each other in sickness and in health for as long as they both lived. Six years of being in love brought them closer and closer together. Even though Sam traveled for work as a pharmaceutical rep while Jane kept the home fires burning, the short separations only increased their desire to be together. When they decided it was time to have children, they both went in for tests to ensure they were both able to do so. It was during that time that her doctor discovered Jane had breast cancer. It was aggressive, and Jane was immediately scheduled for surgery. A complete mastectomy and chemotherapy and radiation followed. Sam hadn't handled the diagnosis or the treatment well. How could his beautiful Jane not be the perfect woman of his dreams? His road trips increased in frequency and duration, often leaving Jane's parents to care for her.
After a year of treatment, tests showed that the cancer had spread to Jane's bones, and the diagnosis was bleak. Tortured by the diagnosis, Sam went out on a bender that night, leaving Jane to be consoled by her parents. When he returned home, Jane confronted him. She was afraid and alone and facing death. She knew when she looked into Sam's eyes that he was lost to her. "I can't stand to see you like this, Jane. The pain ... your beautiful body ruined ... this is too much for me to take."
Jane came to a decision in that moment. "If you can't be here for me as you promised at our wedding, then it is best that you leave now. If you can't love me for who I am now, then I don't want you here while I am dying."
Sam's only response was to nod his head, pack his bags and disappear. Jane died a month later surrounded by her loving parents.
Brad and Monica met and fell in love in Los Angeles. Brad was a set designer and Monica a production assistant at the same company. They promised to love each other in sickness and in health for as long as they both lived. After four years of marriage, they decided it was time to have children. Brad's career was going well, and he wanted Monica to stay home with the children they had both always wanted. They spent time traveling to romantic settings the following year, hoping it would result in pregnancy. When it didn't, they both went in to get tested. It was then that Monica was diagnosed with cervical cancer. They were both devastated to learn that not only did Monica have cancer but that the chances of her having children after the disease were extremely slim. But, they both faced it with a positive outlook. They would get through it all and adopt.
Instead of focusing on being angry about Monica's diagnosis, Brad became her biggest cheerleader. Sure, there were tough times, but working together they got through them. Brad balanced working and taking care of Monica beautifully. His energy was concentrated on getting her back to health. After 18 months of being cancer-free, adoption and their love for each other are their highest priorities.
Monica suffered just as much as Marilyn and Jane, but she had something neither of them had. She had Brad. His positive energy and unconditional love got her through the treatment, kept her positive and resulted in her being diagnosed cancer-free. It's amazing what the power of true unconditional love can do for another person.
Did Marilyn and Jane die because their husbands didn't love them unconditionally? Probably not, but don't you think that Ben and Sam would be able to live with themselves more easily if they had stuck by the women they promised to love until death?
Til Next Time,