Is marriages worth it?

Marriage eventually ends in tears.

A couple of months ago, my mom left my dad after almost 50 years of marriage (it would be 50 this October). It was completely out of the blue; she just collapsed one afternoon in the bathroom. He managed to get her to the bed and then called emergency services to transport her to the hospital where he signed the papers for her to be treated (he’d worked so hard throughout his life so there was excellent health insurance).

For two, almost three, full weeks she lingered in ICU while they ran a battery of tests to determine the cause. She even came ‘around’ to consciousness but was unable to talk because of the breathing tube down her throat. Eventually, things took a turn for the worse and he had to sign the papers allowing them to take out the tube – just like she asked.

Once the tube was out, she left – him and all of us. Forever.

If half or more than half of marriages end in divorce, the others end in death.

Now, he has a house that’s too big for him which is filled with decorations that are just her taste. Knickknacks that she collected, pictures, her favorite chair and a decorative urn of her ashes. He keeps sweet scented candles burning for her along with the cards from friends and family. Sometimes, when I visit, I notice a new ‘thing’ added to the shrine. When they were young and broke, they couldn’t afford trinkets but they worked hard together for retirement and planned. Every now and again he sees something she would’ve liked and can’t resist picking it up, anyway.

Yesterday (Labor day), we all came together as a family (2 grown kids with families of their own plus Dad) and I cooked in the kitchen that was her dream. The one Dad had custom built for her years ago when they finally had the money to spend on such luxuries. How he misses her special way of cooking. There’s one room that he rarely visits because it’s full of her sewing stuff.

I guess he ‘made’ out all right materially. He has all the financial assets, the house, “her car”, we’re grown so custody isn’t an issue but he has our full support, too. He has a lot more time now, too. She’d been sick for years so he’s saved many hours has he saved taking care of her – doctor’s appointments, picking up prescriptions, helping her with chores, and running out to the store for the one ingredient that was always missing every time it was time to cook.

He has a house of memories, dreams when he still hears her voice or imagines a phone call from a hospital, a craving for her cooking, and everyone’s deepest sympathies. He still records the shows she liked to watch that he never bothered with. This October, on their anniversary, we’ll all gather there again to cook food and help him through it. She’ll be there, too, in ashes and spirit.

Love and care is expensive and complicated.

He’d say it was worth it for him.
It’s been worth it for me, too.
It always ends in tears.

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Tabrez Mallick


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