“My husband died of cancer a year ago,” Helen offered. She had barely entered my counseling room and had no desire to waste time with pleasantries. There was a complete lack emotion in her statement, as if she had just told me what she had for lunch. It was soon abundantly evident that Helen’s grief process was much more complicated than it appeared on the surface. I waited. When she was ready, she began peeling back the layers of life, the reason she now sat across from me.
Helen’s ten year marriage had been marred with severe physical abuse since before it started. There had never been a time she had been late returning home that her husband had not cross-examined her, certain she had been cheating on him. She had suffered bruises, broken bones, heartache at choices made early in life for which there seemed to be no relief. Though it appeared senseless to those around her, she somehow still loved him, or at least the man she always hoped he would become.
And then the cancer came. Dreams Helen still harbored of love restored, of marital harmony and mutual respect, faded into the reality of nurses and needles and hospice care. She never did get the apology, the tearful, “I’m sorry,” she yearned for - the morsel letting her know her life under his spell had not been spent in vain.
Now here she was, a full year later, barely able to leave the house; unable to make decisions; fearful of staying out late or making friends. At last the cage door had been opened by the death of her abusive husband. Yet Helen found herself incapable of venturing outside the prison cell of her tortured existence. She knew the cage door was open but she had forgotten how to fly.
The end of this story may be found on Tuesday, February 28 at http://jenniemartin.wordpress.com/