28 February 2011
You know how it is that fairy tales, legends and myths have a life of its own as they get passed from generations to the next? Well because these stories are great, they are incredible, magical, and mystical. Dragons and dungeons, fair haired Princes and Princesses and the usual happily ever after.
I have a story that needs to be told but I do not have fiery dragons or kingdoms to conquer to spice it up. Just a plain love story. I am compelled to share.
Once upon a time, in a fief-dom not far away from here, there lived a young couple who were ridiculously in love with one another. He was 19 and she was 18 years old but they believed that they were meant for each other and there was nothing else more important in the world. They have shared dreams and hopes. They both desired to become medical doctors in the future.
But like most great love stories, the unexpected happened. The girl’s father took ill and this meant that she and her family had to go to a very distant place to have the father’s medical needs attended to. The goodbyes were painful and yet they vowed that whatever happened, they were meant to be. The attendant physical separation, they believed, was not to be an obstacle to their love.
The years passed, the world turned and their lives moved on. As fate would have it, soon thereafter their lives took different turns and they grew apart. He had become a reputable Doctor and his career flourished as a surgeon. He married a colleague in the medical profession and had three kids.
She however, decided that the medical profession was too expensive to pursue, so she settled on marrying a long time suitor, a prominent Lawyer from a reputable and affluent family, and had 5 children of their own.
However, there has never been a single day in their separate lives that they did not think about each other. Deep in their hearts and souls they wished that each were happy and well.
Fifty years after, (half a century) the Doctor had become a widower; he had lost his wife in a short battle with cancer. In the last 24 months he had never felt so alone and lonely. Each day from the day he lost his wife, he had relentlessly tried to find the woman he had loved his entire lifetime, but he never had the luck to have a good lead on her whereabouts. He accepted with a sad heart that perhaps, there were not a lot of people they knew, were still live to make a connection.
Until one day, the Doctor’s eldest daughter, who had become an Oncologist, was sharing an afternoon tea with her father. As they often shared their medical stories, she told him that she has a new patient who was just flown in from another country because the patient and the family decided that the few remaining months of the patients’ life be back home. The daughter continued that she found it quite interesting that her patient and she shared the same first and middle names. She said it was sad that her patient was a widow and only two of her children seemed to be of any interest to tend to her needs. The old Doctor looked up and stared at his daughter, and asked, “What is your patient’s full name?”
Albeit rather odd, the daughter never really shared patient’s names before with her father except for details of the medical case, even if she respected her father’s practice; but in this case, she didn’t think anything was wrong.
When the Doctor heard the name, he tried with all the strength in his soul to keep his emotions in check, he told her daughter I know your patient, she is an old friend, and asked if the patient will be allowed visitors. Excitedly, the daughter said, it might do her good, to have friends visit her patient, after all, the patient only had a few months to live and in the next two days she added, she will release the patient from the hospital care to allow her to spend more time with loved ones and family. She added that there are cases where medical sciences can no longer help, and we live it up to the Creator.
The Doctor’s heart broke into a million different pieces and he resolved to see the patient ("her") the next day, thinking to himself that there was not a lot of time left to waste, now that he had finally found “her” again.
Early the next day the Doctor was at the hospital. With the patient then were two of her own children, the youngest son and daughter, both had respective families and have own settled lives. The Doctor’s daughter, the attending Oncologist, was there too. When he stepped into the room, his whole world momentarily stopped and he was transfixed at his spot, before his eyes, he saw her, his long lost love, the woman whose face he always saw in his dreams, on his happiest moments and even his saddest days. Her face looked tired and gaunt, ashen, lined with pain, but to the old doctor, she looked perfect. When she turned her head to look at her visitor, tears welled in her eyes and she raised her right hand, the only hand free from tubes that were inserted in all the different parts of her body. The Doctor flew from the door to her bed and hugged whatever part of her body he could, and they sobbed unashamedly.
To describe that scene as eventful is insulting, and to describe their respective children’s reactions to that sad scene as “shocked” is an understatement. But the very same night, the Doctor called for all of his children to join him for dinner and invited all of her children too, with their respective spouses. On that occasion he briefly announced that as soon as the patient was released from the hospital, they will get married. Whilst the announcement rendered almost everyone speechless and stunned, no one uttered or showed any sign of disagreement. These people were their parents, after all, in the twilight of their years, who are they to ask the circumstances of the decision?
Three days after the hospital visit, the Doctor and his lady love got married in very simple ceremonies in the woman’s old maternal house. They were both crying and their children too. It was the most beautiful and solemn ceremony they have ever witnessed. Even the bride, despite her terminal condition, seemed to glow. They swear, they have never seen their parents so happy and ironically, so young.
In the next days, he never left her side and tended to everything she needed. If they weren’t talking animatedly and she fell asleep, he was there, holding her hand. The doctor mostly slept at her bedside.
Two weeks after the wedding, he died. He was holding her hand when he passed, seated right at her bedside. She was quietly crying. He was 70 years old.
Yes, the Doctor died. He never told anyone that he too had prostate cancer and as typical in most medical practitioners, they refuse medical attention and treatment. Now don’t ask me why, but it would appear, he didn’t want to burden his family with his illness so he kept it to himself. I guess when he said there was not enough time; he really meant his time, not hers, or maybe both. I wouldn’t know.
She however, lived for around six months more and she too, passed. She died a month after her 70th birthday. Their urns are beside each other in the Doctor’s family columbarium. She had instructed her children to change her family name to his, in the inscription of her epitaph.
And whilst a few of my cynical, jaded friends would think this is totally Hollywood, I would say not. Others who never really believed in eternal love and soul mates would just probably snicker and say, cheesy stuff. For the believers in true, immortal love, I trust that they know and they understand.
After all, this is not fiction. The Doctor was my granduncle.
Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. ~Author Unknown