To be sure that we are all on the same page to start, my housemate Terry Buckley and I are NOT partners/lovers/spouses. We WERE together for 9 years from 1997 to 2006, but I broke it off. At the time, I spent almost a year taking him to 2 different counselors to try to save the relationship, but he would never open up. We didn’t sell the house at the time because of a bad housing market and one other complication. There was a very old woman (Marge) who lived with us who was Terry’s responsibility until her death. We have a large, 3 story house, and Terry would have had to buy something larger than he needed to accommodate her, only to have her pass away, etc. So we agreed we would try to continue living together.
I think that is all you really need to know about our 16-17 years together. We are probably closer than regular housemates because of our past history, but for the last 8 years since the break up, we have only been housemates; there has been no sex between us. I think the most intimate thing we do is almost always give the other guy a hug to say good night before bed. We have each seen other people, but it never became anything serious. I’m 64 and he is 75.
So about 2 years ago, we were ready to sell the house. The interest rates were great and it had become just too big and too much work for 2 old guys. About 3 months into that, Terry was diagnosed with lung lung cancer. That was a real blow and sent both of us reeling. But we got it together and realizing that the average person with Terry’s kind of cancer, etc. has 3 to 5 years to live, we continued with our selling of the house.
As time passed, less and less got done in that regard because Terry became increasingly tired and sick from the radiation and chemotherapy. Eventually, he didn’t even want to think about the house. The Realtors were hounding us, Terry was reluctant to hire workers because he “used to be able to do” stuff and he wouldn’t let me do anything significant or make any significant decisions because he didn’t trust me to do the right thing. Those are 2 important considerations. Terry was living in the past (and may still be) always reminding people of what he used to be able to do. Terry doesn’t think I know much about the real world of houses because when I worked (as a Scientist), he took care of all our housing matters.
I finally resigned myself to work on giving the house a good cleaning, and packing up stuff that wouldn’t be on display during the sale, but would either be sold at an estate sale or put into storage. Then, last Spring, Terry was pronounced cured of the original cancer, but over the following few months, they found 2 new tumors of a different sort which gave him about a year to live. Terry wanted very much to die in the familiar surroundings of this house and I said fine. I reasoned that I could put my life on hold for one year to give him that comfort, and sell the house after he died next Summer. Terry was unwilling to go through another whole round of chemotherapy like he just finished to try to kill the new tumors.
However, the doctors came up with a different chemotherapeutic drug. It is milder and is not designed to kill the tumors. Instead, it can hold them in check; it can stop them from growing more if it works successfully. Terry can take the new chemotherapeutic drug indefinitely which means for probably about a year before the tumors become resistant.
Terry has been taking this drug since August or September of 2013. So instead of dying during the Summer of 2014, he should get scan results showing that the tumors have begun growing again. Indeed, the 2 sets of scans he has had so far show that tumors to be quiescent, and perhaps even smaller.
But I can’t keep waiting for him to die indefinitely. I’m 63 and I want to get back to living my own life. Back to going out, and trying to make friends, and meet other men and maybe have a second chance at love. So you might ask who’s stopping you? I am stopping me. Seeing Terry sick all day, every day, listening to the coughing and seeing him napping, exhausted on the couch takes its toll on me too. I can’t get into the going out and having fun frame of mind. I’ve given him 22 months of my life and I don’t have any more to give. I know he doesn’t have the energy to get the house ready to sell. He just has to leave it to me to do. For all I know, he may pass away before I even get it on the market. If not, he has to find some place else to live. Maybe he could move back home to Chicago and be near his brother and sister-in-law. He mentioned the possibility of doing that some time ago. I once asked whether he wanted to buy my half of this house from me. He said he didn’t want to live here by himself.
How do I tell him this? Do I even have the nerve or the heart to do so? Just thinking about such a conversation makes me feel like the meanest man who ever lived. If Terry would open his eyes and see me, maybe we could work something out. I can’t tell him; I can’t stand up for myself. I’ll just stew in my resentment and depression and anxiety and let him take even more of my life away. I hope that if I end up in a similar situation, I will think about the person or people around me and what I might be putting them through.
August 1, 2014
Since the initial posting, I have resolved to say nothing of this to Terry. I’ve also managed to put the entire cancer situation behind me from time to time and have gotten out to attend meetings of SAGE and the St. Louis Prime Timers. I’m also prepared to go on a date, but the situation has not presented itself.
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