Recently, a rather unexpected tragedy struck close to home; it jarred the life of a man I’m incredibly close to and love unconditionally. If this man had been my husband Allan, I would have done everything in my power to be with him and help share the burden of grief. If it had been Allan, I’d be writing a column this week on the support from my extra-marital partnership. But because it was my boyfriend Jim, the last few weeks have been a bevy of emotional turmoil.
A few weeks ago, while Jim and I were on our way to work, he got a call that his mother had been rushed into a serious and life-threatening surgery about 10 hours away from us. A flurry of phone activity ensued while we sat in bumper to bumper traffic; Jim called his mom, his sister, and his wife. I got on my own smartphone and started looking up flights for him, over 600 dollars round trip. After the phones were hung up and the cars still failed to move, we sat with my hand on his shoulder listening to ourselves breathe.
“Is Diana (his wife) going with you?” I finally broke the tense silence.
“No no… I can drive out alone.”
“Well….I can go with you if you like. I’m worried about you making the long trip alone,” I offered, and this is where things got sticky.
When we got to the office, I spoke to Diana. I really felt so strongly in my gut that he should not drive out by himself under duress.
“Should I insist on going with him?” she asked.
I paused. I was butting into their marriage here, because really, should your girlfriend be telling your wife to insist on being there? Should your girlfriend even be discussing this with your wife? Isn’t it your wife’s place to decide? To talk to her husband? All this was going through my head while we spoke. If it were Allan I’d go….if it were Allan, I could INSIST on going.
“I don’t know.” I told her, regretting this phone call, “I’ll let you know how he is on the ride back to your house”.
While we drove back to his house, Jim was giving me the details of the surgery and its intensity. His knuckles clasped white on the steering wheel while I nodded and gently ran my hand over the hair at the back of his head. We are both deeply emotional, he in a sensitive way and I in a way that my gut reactions are to take care of whom ever needs it, especially if I love them. Diana texted me and said she was respecting his wishes to go alone, and that was that.