02 October 2009

Love is complicated.

Stephen and I live apart.

As can be expected, almost everyone has something to say about it. Even people, who have nothing to do with us, raise their eyebrows and make a face. Some scoff at this arrangement and others just nod or shrug their shoulders because it is just beyond their comprehension that this arrangement is workable. Those that know us, worry that the separate lives we lead will take a toll on us.

It’s curious that if he were an astronaut, no one would think twice about his absence from home. It would be totally acceptable for him to be “away” for months. Since we are just ordinary people, it’s a bone of contention.

Truth be told, there aren’t any questions left that we have not, ourselves, asked of each other. There aren’t any alternatives that we have not analysed and scrutinised.

Truth be told, we don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Nevertheless, I do feel a need to touch on it. In the chance, that someone out there might benefit from knowing about our situation and to give hope to those who don’t or cannot live together yet!

At the outset, I should clarify that the distance between us is not of our own choice. The main and principal reason is Stephen’s mom.

To cut a long story short, in early 2006, she lapsed into a coma and almost died. Doctors told us she would not make it through the week and said we should prepare for the worst. Prior to this, MIL (mother-in-law) lived on her own and relied on her whims and fancies when it came to her pill prescription and nutrition. Having three heart blocks, diabetes and high blood pressure, she didn’t really understand the consequence of not eating healthy food nor of adhering to the medication she needed. When the inevitable happened, after an eating binge, it was no longer feasible for her to live alone. Stephen and his sister decided that she would be better cared for in a nursing home. That she is there is another long story, for another blog.

In any case, it is now 2009 and MIL is alive and doing rather well. Despite the fact that it has been an uphill battle with other interfering family members, that decision to put her there seems to have been the only reason for why she is still living today. Had she been allowed to go home, without a proper dietician to watch her food or a nurse to give her two insulin jabs a day, I sincerely doubt that she would have lived beyond a year, on her own. Whatever is said and done, it is the result that counts. She’s alive and no amount of condemnation from anybody can dispute that.

In this regard, the main and principal reason for us to be apart is my MIL. I write this with no malice at all.

I truly understand that Stephen needs to be near his mom. There is no other sibling around. All the other three are in the US. They are just too far away to be of any significant help for anything or anyone. If Stephen comes to KL, he’d have to shuttle back and forth. Besides, in any emergency, it would take him about 3 to 5 hours to get to her.

Stephen, on the other hand, understands me and of my commitments here. To be brutally frank, we had not anticipated that it would be more than 4 years of this. If he was eventually going to come to KL to retire, there wasn’t a real urgency for me to give up my job and move to Singapore. Of course, that’s all water under the bridge now.

In any case, the last 4 years have not been a total write-off. We’ve been commuting. I am there in Singapore, more than he comes to KL only because there is a need for me to visit with my MIL. If he came here more often, then she would have less of him and me. Since I’m not there, Stephen visits her frequently.

With all the modern technology, we don’t really feel the absence so badly. We “skype” everyday. For those moments, we are seated across each other, at our laptops, and we give each other undivided attention. Sometimes, I’ll have my dinner while he has his or I’m folding the clothes and we talk. I think there are married couples who don’t even talk the way we do. They go about their own ways and only share the same roof.

It’s not the best way for a marriage to be but neither is it the worst. We have many weekends together and every time we are together, it’s just glorious. We carry on from where we last left off and nothing seems untoward or out of place. Maybe it’s just us and our ability to make the most of our situation. Perhaps our personalities allow us to enjoy this kind of arrangement. I don’t say that there aren’t times when the absence can be unbearable. I don’t say, either, that there aren’t times when we wished we didn’t have to say goodbye so often. Yet, many other married people who have ‘normal’ married lives don’t seem to be as happy as we are. People who know Stephen will probably hear the same thing from him as those who know me here. We genuinely are all right with this. We know that it’s not going to be forever. Eventually, we will be together and that hope keeps us going.

There won’t be any regrets on his side if anything should happen to his mom. He is sacrificing his time with Jared and me in order to be as close to her as possible. Jared and I, in our own way also see it as a sacrifice or sorts. At the end of it all, we’ll be able to say we did what we believed was best and made the most of it.

This is the reason why I have loved this mini poster when I first saw it. I feel it totally encapsulates all that I want to say. Very often, I open the file to look at it and it reminds me of what LOVE should be. It also tells me that Stephen is capable of this kind of love. It tells me that it isn’t always easy to love because it’s complicated. It also tells me that when you do know of this kind of love, then your life has been worthwhile.

This post is dedicated to Antares, Hussein and Patricia.


HH said...

Right! U know who is important! This morning I was really really into my blog ...and then my wife who loves walking, tells me to please hang the clothes up when the washing machine finishes its dry cycle because she was going for a walk...and i stop what i do and do it. so you and me have got our priorities right...right on sister!


Patricia said...

Sweetheart, this one was so from the heart, yah? It may have taken a bit outa you to write, but it would have been great therapy: and it would've proved to you, inside your head, that you are both right in what you do!

Forget all the idiots out there who tell you this is wrong, or whatever. You are right when you say that so many 'just share a roof'!

There's no need to breathe the same air. The fact that you two are together, every day, on Skype, says so much about what an amazing relationship you share. This meeting of minds is infinitely important.

You know what everyone is talking about, right? You don't say it, because you're so cool. But, I'll say it for you: sex. That's what everyone is so incredulous about. It's like it is the be-all-and-end-all of married existence! Woebetide anyone who is denied this!!!

So with you here, and he there, how can, wan??!!!

Sigh. How to explain to morons that it's not about a meeting of bodies but a meeting of minds that makes life so worthwhile?

Rock on, dear one. You and Stephen are an inspiration. Whenever I feel like wringing Chuan's neck, I think of you two, and I count my blessings. And I am grateful that at least his neck is here to be wrung ;)

I wish you many, many loving years together - and may these years see you together in real space, as well as time :)

Btw, this old lady had to lean close to see the dedication, but says: thank you!


Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

HH, We certainly know our priorities and I think we also make the most of our time and energy for loved ones. In the end, it is all that will matter. The feel good moments add up and make us happy inside. :)

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

My dear Pat,

I could see you, in my mind's eye, cheering me on in my crusade against all these naysayers. hahaha! What a delightful read this was for me!

I actually found it quite easy to write. In fact, it's probably because I've had it inside my head all along.

Plus now, I've confirmation that I'm cool!

How cool is that?

Thank you ever so much for the loving and lovely comment.

Love ya!!! :)

Antares said...

Awwwww, Lita... all I can say is: Stephen is one lucky guy!!! Quality, not quantity, no? Having said that... it still would be fun to see you guys romp in the river sometime :-) Thanks so much, sweetie! xoxox

petit hummer said...

There is always a good and bad side of everything. Right now I think you and I are in the same situation... except maybe that you and your husband actually share the same timezone (that does help loads!). I'm glad to know that it is working so well for you... gives me hope for me!

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Antares, It works both ways. I'm also just as lucky and blessed to have him in my life. As always, you are full of kind words. Love ya. xoxox

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Dear Petit Hummer,

Of course, you are right about the good and bad side of everything. :)

I'm so glad you commented. Now I know that putting this post up had touched someone. Even if it's only one person, it already means so much.

I'm absolutely certain that you don't need to worry too much. Apart from hope, you have love and, really, that is all you need!

I enjoy visiting your blog because you are so honest in your feelings and it's a breath of fresh air in today's world.


Anonymous said...

hi, hey....I went thru the same thing when shun was with the band and travelling all the time. I was both mum and dad to my two girls. Needelss to say , of course we had the daily calls from where he was and we were all okay. There were times when we only saw him for two weeks then it was months on end till we saw him again. I had my own schedule and I sort of enjoyed my time with out him and just being with the kids. When he came back, we were happy as well but life was different. There was a another person now - heh heh heh. Life was easier cos he took over all the load from my shoulders eg taking the kids to school , marketing etc. But over all....there are the good and bad
cos at one stage the kids were not used to him being around. Now there are two adults telling them what to do... hahahahah

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Young-at-heart, I think you know more than anybody here about love being complicated. When are you going to start blogging?