"There are very few Hitlers in the world. Most people are just doing the best they can."
- Rich Stryker
I'm still getting used to referring to Rich in the past tense. My last entry caused a bit of a stir on Facebook. Some people got pretty uncomfortable that I would say things about a dead man that were less than high praise. And I get that emotions are high right now for everyone. But the fact that he was jealous of my other friendships and refused to discuss his mortality is as real as his phobia of sharks.
Many commenters said that they shouldn't judge my infidelity, that my situation was more than most people could bear. And if you don't want to judge, so be it. If you do want to judge, I welcome that too. But if you are going to judge harshly, I welcome you to talk to me about it. We don't have to agree.
The way that people behave when under pressure matters. No one gets a free pass, including me. We can be patient and understanding, but we still need to remind that person that they're kinda being unreasonable.
Shrop (my pretty great boyfriend) and I had a huge ongoing fight while Rich was in hospice. If I talked to other people who love me, their response was largely that I was going through the hardest thing a person ever has to do and I am allowed to do whatever I'm doing so he should just deal. And while that may have felt good to hear, it didn't work. It's the same logic that says Rich had cancer and was therefore allowed to do whatever he wanted. That didn't work either.
Shrop fucked up here and there. So did I. And look at us all livin' and shit. If either of us held steadfast to the idea that one or both of us were perfect, we wouldn't be having dinner together tonight and we'd probably both be a lot more miserable.
Rich was a fantastic person. I adored him. I pined for him when he wasn't mine to have. He was one of the most clever people I've ever met. He was self-sacrificing. He was nurturing to friends, children, students, and people who he really couldn't stand. He was forthright. He positively impacted hundreds if not thousands of people on this planet, including Ian and me.
And he was a shitty cancer patient. If cancer never happened, I believe Rich and I would still be happily married. We'd have at least another kid if not two more. We'd have vacationed in Europe. But cancer happened. And plans changed.
However, cancer is not at fault. It's just a thing, like a flash flood. How people behave when the flash flood wipes away their house is the real issue. And there were some times that Rich let the water knock him down and wouldn't get back up.
And I still love him to pieces. He was so amazing in so many ways. And I will keep telling you all about that. But heroes are still human, and we do best by learning from all of their actions.
Think about your own heroes. Not people like Captain America or Spider Jerusalem. I mean real people. Your parents. Your knight. Your best friend. Your college professor. Every single one of those people is human. They all have personality wrinkles. To ignore them, in life or in death, is a disservice to all parties.
Look at that picture. That's the man I fell in love with. Isn't he gorgeous? I would have cut a bitch over him. I miss that man so much it hurts. I have lots of other pictures and videos and writings of that amazing man and I'm so grateful for that.
And that gorgeous man in the picture was terrified of flying. He was a 6'4" baby about the whole thing. And that pretty girl next to him was an anxious perfectionist obsessed with her job.
And they both still had a lot of people who loved them all the same. Hopefully that's still true.