Last night, I was browsing Facebook. One of my husband's cousins is getting married this weekend. His family is somewhat scattered throughout this country and today,they were all flying into the Northeast United States for the wedding.
One by one, as they arrived, they posted their statuses and their photos on Facebook. They all arrived safely. Although they are far-flung, they are close knit. All are happy to be where they are tonight, all are eager for a mini family reunion, all ready for the weekend's festivities.
Except for an aunt and uncle of the groom. They were missing from Facebook and from the wedding. They were supposed to fly in, too. Their hotel reservations were set. They were looking forward to the trip.
And then something happened. The aunt became ill, a recurrence of a sickness that she has suffered from for years. There was no way she could travel. Her husband stayed behind to care for her.
It sounds like a sweet story, this sacrifice, except for one little detail. And it's that little detail that makes me hesitant to even post this act of love on my blog. It shouldn't matter, not in our modern world. But I'm not sure the family would like me to even talk about this. I am anyway.
Because, you see, this illness is not physical.
A stigma still exists surrounding illnesses of this type. My husband's cousin, the groom's uncle, has borne so much of this burden by himself.
This couple, through the years before they moved from the Northeast, did many good things for my mother in law. They visited her. They installed grab bars in her bathroom, installed extra lighting for her aging eyes, installed railings on stairs, put sliding shelves in her kitchen cabinets, and made life easier for her in many other little ways. This aunt of the groom has an energetic mind and was an experienced caregiver for her own mother, now deceased, so she knew what to do.
But then they retired, and moved away to be close to their daughter. My mother in law was so looking forward to their visit for the wedding.. She was also invited to that wedding and this couple was going to take her there. (Another nephew will now take my mother in law.)
The aunt of the groom is intelligent, delightful and a very caring person. When the illness strikes, her entire family suffers, and I know she must suffer most of all.
But last night, as I saw the other smiling faces on Facebook, I thought of her. And her husband. It's hard to put into words how I felt.
I wish I had an answer for this situation. But I don't. We email sometimes, and track each other on Facebook. But we've never lived close to each other, and never knew each other perhaps in the way we should have.
All I can hope is that, one day, medicine will find a cure for this illness, or at least, a better way to manage it.
Have you faced this type of family challenge?