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Just my rambling thoughts about being gay and Mormon

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The ravages of cancer



My wife died this past month after a two year war with rare and very aggressive breast cancer. We had nearly 34 years together.

We were married within 8 months of my returning from an LDS mission. This despite the fact that we had not really known each other before I left. I got the "go home and get married talk" when I left the mission field and was obedient. 

Within a year our first daughter was born while I was working my way toward a degree at BYU. My wife and I were great friends and we really enjoyed the lean years of school and starting a family. Many people are curious about sex in mixed orientation marriages - so I'll get that out of the way. I think our sexual relationship was probably pretty typical of young married couples. For me, being gay was not a particular hindrance in the early years of our marriage. I guess that for most young men, any sex is good sex. The best sex involves a deep emotional caring for each other and we certainly had that.

From the early days of our marriage she knew I was not like most of the other men she knew. I tried my hand at all the butch stuff from car repairs to home remodeling but never enjoyed it and was never much good at any of it. She was certainly aware that my natural instinct was to catch a glance at a good looking man, just as many guys get in trouble with their wives for catching glances of other women.

Being faithful to your wife in a mixed orientation marriage is an interesting proposition. It's pretty much impossible to not be aware of what you are missing and have some degree of longing for more intimate male relationships. Because of this "emotional unfaithfulness" I often had feelings of guilt. On occasion my longing led to more than emotional unfaithfulness. Other women might have said, "enough" and divorced me. While my wife was very opinionated and in many ways not the conventional Mormon wife, she depended upon me completely. She never worked outside our home, except in the very early days when I was in school. She did not want to be independent. She wanted to rely on me.

She loved me deeply. She did not want to lose me and I could not face the pain it would have caused to break up our marriage. So we adapted and did our best. It was hard enough on her when she saw that I could no longer support the Mormon church because of it's position on gay members and it's practice of making the organization more important than the individual. Over time, her support for me actually increased.

Her mother had had breast cancer, which was successfully cured, so she was particularly diligent in getting regular cancer screenings. Unfortunately, the cancer that attacked her was not detectable by these cancer screenings. Just a month after her annual checkup she found two lumps, one in a breast, and one under her arm. 

I had a distinct impression from the beginning that the cancer would take her life. While her doctors tried to be upbeat and encouraging, in my private conversations with them they acknowledged that it was very serious and the prognosis was not good.

At the time the cancer attacked she had just completed a year of intense physical conditioning and so she was in top shape. She tolerated the chemo, radiation, and surgeries remarkably well. After a year she was declared to be in remission. Only 6 months later the cancer came back with a vengeance. By January 2013 she was unusually weak and although she continued to request more chemo in the hope of knocking the cancer back, it was resistant to everything the doctors could throw at it.
During February she continued to slide downhill. Just about 2 days before she passed away she could no longer stand and was confined to bed. The night before she passed away I sat in bed holding her and stroking her head. She said she had never been so tired and could not understand why she was so completely unable to even sit up. As we visited I told her that I thought she was dying. She said, "I won't go". All I could do was hold her tighter and say, "well sweetheart, I think your body's going to go without you."  The next morning she slipped into a coma and passed away about 6 hours later.
She was the most amazing person I've ever known. It was impossible for her to be sad or angry for long and her constant laughter filled our home with unusual brightness. My life will be very different without her. 

2 comments:

  1. It's my hope that you have close loved ones who can support and sustain you doing your difficult times.

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  2. I'm sure no one really understands what is like to lose someone so close or the pain associated. Sending you good thoughts.
    Hugs,Miguel

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