A fictional story to get us thinking about the silent mourners...thank you to several great friend for this fabulous idea! Please feel free to comment on this post with your own thoughts and ideas.
They learned only ten years into their marriage that Anna would have only a few good years and nothing beyond that would be a guarantee. The disease would eventually rob her of her ability to walk and would make every day tasks impossibly painful. It was a lot for Steven to take, but he knew the importance of family. He was virtually on his own at the age of fifteen and he would never turn his back on his wife or their children. His story was sad to say the least with a drunkard father and a flirtatious mother - hard to say which had been more irresponsible, but the judge had given him the choice. At age fifteen he decided that being on his own was better than babysitting for the adults who had so obviously let him down. That was all history now, and Steven was in this with Anna through thick or thin.
It was so frustrating at one point that he took her cane and threw it out of the house - hollering at her to get up and get it...he didn't want to believe that she couldn't and he was angry. Luckily those tumultuous times were few and far between, but he was still embarrassed at how he handled things. Luckily Anna always forgave him. Steven longed to see the sway of her stride, the wiggle of her buttocks, the swagger of her hips...he wanted it nearly as much as she did. Anna would cry herself to sleep, remembering the times she chose to sit on the sidelines instead of dancing...and she longed for just one more dance, one more song, one more chance to move her body to the rhythm. They called the disease multiple sclerosis - she didn't care what they called it, her own body had betrayed her.
Steven did the laundry, kept the house, tended to the yard, worked full time, did all the grocery shopping, and learned to expertly load and unload the power cart that Anna needed to get around. His forearms became strong from all the lifting, and Janice in the office at worked seemed to look at him differently. Steven thought it was his physique, but Janice was most attracted to the dedication Steven was showing for his wife. The two would talk quite often, somewhat flirtatiously, but always innocently. Janice was a single parent. Her husband had died when the children were little. Steven sometimes felt like he was single, it was too hard to talk to Anna about his longing and the sadness. He didn't want her to feel like a burden and he certainly loved her, but he needed something more.
Steven and Janice were never more than friends. Steven told Anna when he would meet with Janice and Anna tried hard not to be jealous. Steven and Phyllis would leave work at the same time each day and he would watch her walk to her car and the way her body moved was enough to bring him to his knees. It wasn't Phyllis he was lusting after, it was the memory of his dear Anna and the way her legs looked in stockings and heels - those days seemed so long ago. Once a week Steven and Phyllis would head back to her home on the river and they would sit and chat while enjoying a cold beer or two. Anna understood and trusted that things would never go too far. After all, the men didn't seem to understand Steven's plight and she was happy that he had someone to confide in. That said, she was still a bit relieved when he was laid off from work - there were no more weekly visits, no stories about Phyllis, and as far as Anna could tell, the relationship had fizzled out.
Steven was unhappy, but Anna felt more self assured without Phyllis in the picture. And then...Steven was called back to work and that uneasy feeling reared it's ugly head for Anna again. Jealousy was such an ugly emotion and try as she might, she was still a bit uneasy about Phyllis and Steven and their deep friendship. Steven's first day back was a happy one, he was excited about a paycheck again but even more excited to see Phyllis. He was curious about those headaches she had been having and wondered if the doctors had found the cause of the problem. Shortly after punching in, Steven headed to Phyllis's desk to say hello to his dear friend. He desk was empty and the smiling face he longed to see was nowhere to be found. The office itself was eerily quiet and very empty. Steven went on his way and figured he would catch up with Phyllis a bit later in the day.
An hour into his shift, another long-time co-worker came around with a card and asked Steven if he's like to sign the sympathy card for the Bertsche family. Time stood still for Steven as he felt the room around him spinning. He sat down, signed his name, and went back to work. His heart was broken. He couldn't go to the funeral because it might enrage Anna and make her jealous. He couldn't explain his love for Phyllis, and if he tried to explain to friends and family about the loss he was feeling, they might misunderstand and think he had been unfaithful to his beloved Anna. He resigned himself to a loneliness only he could understand. All those memories, the laughter, the tears, the good times...never to be mentioned again...
All Steven wanted to do is mourn, but it seems impossible when the mere mention of her name seems scandalous. And so he cries quietly when in the shower or late at night when Anna won't notice...and now when he sees a woman walking by, the pain is doubled...mourning impossible