Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Survivor's Guilt?

Every year Jews across the world have Passover Seders commemorating the Exodus from Egypt many generations ago and at those Seders there is a moment when we remember the ten plagues that God wrought on our enemies and as we recite each of the plagues we dip our pinky in the wine glass and allow a wine droplet to fall on the plate – a reminder that in our time of happiness we remember other’s losses.

Over the last three or four year’s thoughts of relative happiness have been a constant in my brain. How can my happiness – if that is really even the right word – not be tempered by Carrie’s travails? So she remains a constant – a constant with daily phone calls, a constant with almost weekly visits and if not a constant, a comfort when she recently allowed us a full embrace, a throwback to what once was.

And the refrain from the outside has been that we are each responsible for our own lives, that her success or lack thereof in the social world lies on her own shoulders. I do understand this – I am her friend but not her keeper. I also understand that she has taken a series of “hits” that one would not wish on their enemies, no less a best friend. So I have been oft accused of survivor’s guilt.

It’s just that it does not feel that way to me. When I call each day to check in – the mundane things that make a life – I do not feel a sense of obligation, getting something out of the way. I rather enjoy the little updates and banter. And when I arrive for a weekend visit and the kids announce they are off to something else, sitting at the kitchen table with Carrie is not a burden, but on the whole relaxing. Lord knows there is not much pretense left (though I still try to make believe that if my cell rings, it is really not Phil).

As we sat at the kitchen table recently I asked about the future. In less than four years the youngest will be off to college. There will be no need to call daily, the updates will be slim. There will be no need to drive up on a Friday night – the kids will not be there. Does all that end; is there a weaning process like a four year old giving up the teat?

The thing is that while there may be elements of survivor’s guilt, I enjoy my life, limitations accepted, with Carrie and cannot really imagine the day when the spigot gets turned off.