From down the hall I heard this booming voice, “I love my job!” A few minutes later, Bob, a large-framed, muscular 35-year-old man, entered my room. I asked him if he loved his job, which elicited a softening in his presence. I told him that I had an interest in the experience of caregivers ever since my husband became overwhelmed and left the marriage. He told me that his job was very stressful, but as stressful as it gets, it is way better than his previous life. I had an internal warning about asking about his earlier life experiences. This intuition comes from almost thirty years of being a psychotherapist. There are some places you just don’t want to go if you are vulnerable in any way. I was struck by how generous he was during the conversation. This is a quality I see in almost all of the caregivers here. I’m very curious about where this enormous amount of life force comes from.

David and I started dating in 1997. He was a science teacher at the public high school who supported adolescents  considered AT RISK. During the time  I worked at a community mental health center, and David and I saw some of the same adolescents. When one had a life-threatening crisis, we came together to help, and then we met again at a Gurdjieff school. We had both been married twice before and wanted a relationship with a conscious intention for a relationship that would open our hearts as wide as possible and find the blocks in the way.

Soon after we began living together I had abdominal surgery for benign tumors. He prepared the house and took care of me for two days. But after only two days, he had reached his limit. He had cabin fever and had to get out. It was very painful to see this part of him. Maya Angelou says, “when somebody shows you who they are, believe them.” What is it about us that does not want to believe? What is it that says things will change, that the other person will love us more than his or her limitations?

David and I continued our relationship and created a wonderful horse community together. After some time together he wanted to get married, but with the uncertainty of what was happening in my body, I would not commit.

In 2003, I was living in New Orleans, and I went on tour with an interracial, interfaith Gospel choir to Ireland. We sang in the churches throughout the country and spoke about racism and sectarianism. It was during this trip that I began to noticeably limp and the diagnosis of MS became emblazoned on my records. When I got home, David went to all of my appointments with me. Hearing the news he said, “I guess we have an adventure ahead of us.” I told him that if he felt that way, I would marry him, on our horse farm, with friends and family as witnesses. With my gospel choir singing and surrounded by loved ones, we were married.

To make a long story short, the form of my illness was very progressive, and the demands on David were great. This time he lasted more than two days, but after eleven years, he once again had enough and bolted like broccoli in the summer.

Not everybody can be Bob. When a person shows you who he is, believe him.

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