GREED asks: My Girlfriend has a heart problem. She says that it would be a waste for me to stay with her, because she can’t trust her health, or might die young. She says that I am the only son in the family, so I should find someone better. I told her “in times of sour or in times of sweet we will have it together.” What does she want or mean? And what should I do? How to deal with her?
Hi GREED –
My friend, if any member of my pack has a name less fitting than yours, I’m not sure who that’d be. Any woman, and likely any man, who reads your letter is just going to melt, and wish they had someone in their life who loved them as unconditionally and beautifully as you love your girlfriend. I’m going to declare you an honorary DOG – your love is just that perfect!!
Humans are innately subject to self-esteem problems, and while most people suffer for sillier reasons (“I’m not good looking enough,” “I’m not rich enough,” “I’m not popular enough”), your girlfriend has a devastating one: she has, possibly, a low expectancy for the length of her life. I can’t imagine how awful that must be.
And she is being kind. She feels you deserve a woman who can live with you for your lifetime, who can be counted on to raise children with you, who can be a help to you and not just the other way. She doesn’t feel worthy of you. And that is beautiful, and heartbreaking.
So you want advice? I’ll give it straight here to you: I want you to change her entire view of herself and the nature of life!!
She is concerned, correctly, that she might not live what we call a full human life, say 80 years or more.
But I have a question: How long are you going to live? Do you know?
How long is my human Handsome going to live? Queen Elizabeth? Usain Bolt? Jennifer Lopez? Or as everyone loves to joke, is Keith Richards immortal?!
No one knows.
A baby is born today. Will it live to over a hundred, or will some disaster end its life tomorrow? No one knows.
Your girlfriend, GREED, is terrified about something called Probability. The odds of her living to eighty years or more are lower than they are for you. But that’s all. She could live to ninety, and you could live a much shorter life. But she’s feeling guilty about the fact that her likelihood of living a long life is less than that of another woman you might meet.
What you need to explain to her is that none of us know, that this world does not give any guarantees about such things. And that love is beautiful, and love takes the chance.
Now I’ll give you an example of someone who’s loved as much as she is, and whose odds of living that long are way less than hers:
Dogs, especially large dogs like me, often die as young as ten, though about fifteen would be more normal – if nothing bad happens to us (disease, accidental poisoning, or – Handsome’s constant fear – my getting run over). Now Handsome loves me as much as anyone’s ever loved anyone, and it’s absolutely known that I won’t make it to twenty years old, and he expects to live way longer than that.
So should he reject me, and get a pet who’ll live longer? Say, a large tortoise?
I just asked him, and he laughed. He wouldn’t trade me in for a young puppy; he’s sure not going to throw me over for a big amphibian with an uncuddly shell, who can’t chase squirrels! He just loves me.
GREED, you might have an accident that leaves you wheelchair-bound, and this woman might be pushing you in that wheelchair for forty years. She doesn’t know.
And especially, as medicine keeps improving so quickly, what’s wrong with her heart might be fixable in her lifetime, so she might suddenly be expected to live longer than you (just because women statistically tend to outlast men).
Your girlfriend is scared, and of course she has every reason to be. But if you can explain to her that, just as Handsome is ready and willing to suffer the pain of losing me, you are ready to suffer losing her if you can only have the right to have her while she’s here…
Well, you will get a reaction I can’t give Handsome. Bring a box of tissues, because you’re going to make her cry her eyes out.
Because she will see the love I see in your letter. And realize that she’s found one man in a million. One whose heart is so fantastic that maybe it makes up for the flaws in hers.
All my best to you. And I wish everyone out there the ability to love the way you do, and to be loved the way she is loved by you.