Friday, March 25, 2011

"Promise me you'll keep doing your work..."

 "Promise me you'll keep doing your work," Robert said, taking both my hands in his and pressing them to his heart, looking deeply into my eyes.

It was three years ago -- end of March 2008 -- and we had learned that his body was succumbing to multiple myeloma. There were treatments we could and would try, but this conversation marked the countdown to the end, as I think back on it.

He would have one more month of health -- fatigued, but able to live the way he loved -- going to his art studio to paint, dancing joyfully, and loving me as if his life depended on it (and maybe it did). Then, as treatments failed, his back fractured in multiple places. The extreme pain led him into another world -- a world where love was not enough to heal or even ease the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. 

A world of preparing to die.

 "Promise me you'll keep doing your work..."

Our profound sexual connection had powered our relationship for our seven, soul-soaring years together. Neither of us had ever had a relationship as sexually exuberant or as emotionally satisfying! Professionally, our spicy hot afternoon delights propelled me to switch writing topics from health and fitness to senior sex. Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty celebrated our love affair. We married in 2006, the year the book came out.


We already knew that our love wasn't "forever" the way young people think of it. Besides being seniors, we had the challenge of Robert's diagnosis -- at that point -- of leukemia and lymphoma. Our wedding celebrated not only our love, but that six months of chemotherapy had sent Robert's cancer into remission. We were told we might have ten or more good years of health, a magical gift.

But we didn't have ten years -- we had two.

 "Promise me you'll keep doing your work..."

March 2011: Two countdowns shift in my mind. In August, I'll face the 3-year anniversary of Robert's death. (When does it get easier?) But before that, in June, I'll welcome a new book into the world -- Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex -- the book I started working on with Robert. In fact, you'll see that he wrote part of the chapter, "Unlearning Our Upbringing: Men's Stories."

I think at our age, those of us who dare to live and love fully have this balancing act between the sweet surprises and rewards of living our dreams out loud and the inevitable losses. Robert gave me the right advice: "Promise me you'll keep doing your work." It sustains me and brings me great joy -- as does sharing it with you!

1 comment:

  1. The reality of loss during this time of life is heartbreaking. I am inspired by your story.

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