I just found out a friend of mine died. She had numerous “cardiac events.” She was, hands down, one of the most selfless caregivers I’ve known. She had some strength, actually she had a lot of strength. But, sadly, she pretty much also sacrificed everything of herself for the man she loved.
I won’t get into any description of the man here, except he was very similar to my ex. In fact, at one time, the two of them considered each other “brothers.” But this is not an appropriate time to dissect what he may or may not have done wrong in his relationship with his wife. The one thing I know the most, is that he loved her and she loved him.
Any death of someone you care about hits you deeply. But there are times – and this is why many people feel guilty about their feelings in regards to the death of someone they care for – when the death makes you think about your own life.
She made her choices, good or bad. They were the right path for her, even if I could wish she would have made different ones. But, one thing that was similar between us (in addition to a number of other items, such as personality and stubbornness) was that we both had heart problems, including high blood pressure.
What comes to mind for me, and what hit me immediately upon hearing of her death, is “That could have been me.”
Do I feel guilty for feeling that? You betcha!
That doesn’t make it any less true. She stayed with the man she loved, I left. She moved halfway across the world to follow him. I moved in with my sister. Now, she’s dead – and not only am I alive, but my high blood pressure is gone as if it never existed.
When I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure, I was forced to get an EKG. Why? Because my doctor was convinced that since my blood pressure was 200/100, that I had to have had multiple miniature heart attacks. Thing was, I was also in the throes of a nervous breakdown (this was the one in 2003 I’ve spoken of). The test showed absolutely NO damage done to my heart.
And, of course, since I had also been recently diagnosed with diabetes, the two and my weight were completely and irrevocably mixed in with everything else wrong that was “because you’re fat.” That included my lifelong battles with my menstruation, my chronic pain (even with the numerous injuries), and anything else they could possibly pile on that one issue.
Yet, 4 months after I left my ex, my doctor took me off my blood pressure medicine. And I have had perfect blood pressure ever since. Sadly, in that same period, I’ve also regained approximately 40 lbs (yes, I have NOT been as good with diet and exercise as I want to be – but I defy you to “eat healthy” when you are in the deepest depression and anxiety you have ever felt in your life). Regaining 40 instead of the 100 I lost is – for me – a victory.
I look at her death, not only from the standpoint of missing someone, but also as the reminder I think it is for me – that I made the right decision for myself. That could have been me. Oh, it might have taken a few more years (she was older than I am), but the uncontrolled anxiety (no matter how many “crazy pills” I may take) would have eventually caused multiple heart attacks.
She moved to Hawaii, so I have already said my good-byes, but I do feel that this world is just a little bit darker with her gone.