Backstory: My SO’s high school sweetheart (we’ll call her Mary) and my SO (let’s call him Joe) have remained close friends even though they’ve not dated in 8 years. Joe and I had a huge fight and split a couple of months ago, but have since been working out our problems and are planning to marry. This is where Mary comes in.
In the past year Mary was diagnosed with a rare brain condition, was raped, which resulted in a pregnancy (she kept the baby and pressed charges on the rapist), and during the pregnancy she found out she had a serious fast growing cancer. Her baby is now close to four months old, she also has a three year old son (neither child is with Joe), and she found out about a month ago that she is terminal. She’s so far gone in the cancer that she only has a few weeks left to live and is now in home hospice care.
As I said before, she and Joe are still very close friends, and after his first visit with her when she found out she was dying, her family begged him to make it seem to her that they are in a relationship because she felt ugly because of the cancer eating away at her body and alone and unloved. He agreed because he does still love her very much, if not in a romantic way. Their “relationship” consists of him driving up and spending a couple of days with her (she lives a couple of hundred miles away) once a week or so and helping with household chores, meals, etc, and holding her hand while she hurts, trying to distract her from what’s going on, and talking to her and comforting her.
The last time he was there visiting her brother brought an engagement ring for him to give to her as a promise to be with her until the end. Joe had serious misgivings about this, feeling as though he were putting on a front because he would not be with her in a relationship, let alone proposing, if not for the circumstances. He went ahead and did it at the urging of her family, but felt bad.
Now, during the last month of all this he and I have been working on our issues and getting along rather well, and discussing plans to marry soon, etc. But Mary is the elephant in the room. We recently took a HUGE vacation together but I couldn’t post anything about his part in it on facebook for fear of Mary and her family finding out he is actually with someone else. We even discussed going to a beach side wedding chapel on the trip, but he didn’t want to marry me while playing this part for her. I know that as soon as she passes we will move on, get married, I’ll be able to post the rest of the stuff from our trip, etc, but it makes me feel morbid, like I’m waiting for this poor woman to snuff it so I can have my man back.
A few notes: he has my blessing in all this. I know she’s dying, has very limited time left, and I am fine with what he’s doing. I know his “engagement” to her is making her happy and making her fight harder, giving her older child just a little more time with his mother before she passes and making her days a little less miserable.