Around 10 AM a full-figured woman entered my office. I was in a good mood, thanks to my last two Hospitality Club guests - tall, funny german girls sporting a beautiful knowledge of Hungarian language - so I was all smiles and chitchat. Soon I managed to get the bud of a smile on her face, despite her diagnosis, which said "severe depression". It's not her case or her symptoms that make me write about her, though - it's the story of how she got sick.
The lady was born in a poor family, the first of five brothers. Between a too severe father and an absent-minded mother, she had to grow up before she went to school. Between all that washing, baking, butt-wiping and smacking the foul-mouthed, she never got to highschool and married soon after she turned sixteen. The washing, baking and wiping didn't change much, except for the fact that it was now done for less people. "I married more to get away from my parents' home ... it wasn't such a smart move, in the end".
The marriage was loveless and beatings started soon after the birth of their first child, the fact that her partner befriended the bottle didn't help much either. She loved her kids though, so she coped with things and years went by until she passed 45. Then the husband had a car accident and she became a widow. The kids were now grown ups, they had jobs and married and moved away. For the first time in her life, she had nobody to take care of.
Two years after the death of her husband, she met another man. I wish I could show you how this down-to-earth looking, massive woman with a scarf on her head, dressed in deep shades of grey, talked about him. It was Juliet talking about Romeo, Dante shouting to the world the beauty of his Beatrice. It sounded a lot like I still talk about my miracle of a husband - the woman was transfigured with love.
She described a gentle, introverted man who never did her harm and was always looking for ways to make her feel cherished. They almost never argued, and he somehow always knew just what to tell her to cheer her up after a hard day. He was a divorcee with kids, the first marriage being just as miserable as hers. They wondered sometimes why the Almighty gave them that much bliss, so late in life. So passed 12 years.
The one day, she was phoned and told that her husband had a car accident, just like the first, but instead of dying he was sent with both legs broken to a clinic in Cluj. She found a neighbour to take her there and stayed near his bed for a few nights, sleeping on the chair because there were no beds available and agonizing between hope and despair until all the surgeries of her husband were finished. She befriended one of the doctors, who told her that things were looking just fine and in a few weeks they'll be able to send him home with casts on his legs and a prescription for long restings and grandchildren hugs. They made the doc promise he'll be visiting them when he'll hike in the mountains where they lived. The weeks passed quickly and the day he was supposed to be discharged from the hospital arrived.
They spent the morning discussing how they'll sell the cow and the horse, buy a small used car and he'll show her the country, stopping to visit every monastery and tourist attraction they'll see. She then started to pack his clothes when he out of nowhere cried out something unintelligible, convulsed his hands in the air a second and lost consciousness.
She rushed to him, tried to wake him up by screaming his name and pouring water on him, then started rubbing his chest vigorously because he looked like he wasn't breathing anymore. Meanwhile, a football player that occupied the next bed while waiting for his knee surgery jumped out of his bed and went out on the hall, screaming for the nurses. By the time they got in, the husband was awake and responsive, and asked the wife with a lot of anger why she was shouting at him like a lunatic.
"But you lost consciousness"
"That's nonsense, and you know it, woman"
The nurses then shouted at her for making a big deal out of nothing and wanted to get out. Before the last one exited though, he lost consciousness again, bubbles appeared on his lips and in a few minutes, despite electroshocks and intensive resuscitation manoeuvres, he was dead.
The autopsy discovered he died because of a blood clot, caused by the prolonged bedrest. The thrombus stopped first in his heart, causing the loss of consciousness she saved him from by heart massage. The second, and final stop, was in his lungs. She was depressive ever since .
I know this story sounds a lot like a Hallmark movie script, but she had he papers to prove it. And Hallmark-ish, my dear readers, might sound also what she said before leaving - but since it was truth and not fiction, I see no cornyness in it :
"I know I was luckier than most people for having what I had, even if it was so late in life and after so much suffering. And I feel him watching me from up there. But it's still hard, because it's such a long time until the distance between us will shorten."