My mother and I are slowly growing more comfortable when it comes to discussing sex and sex-related issues. When she found out I had a vibrator her only comment was “You know, those can be a girl’s best friend”. She seems to be coming to terms with the fact that I, her only child, am a sexual being just as I am equally learning to acknowledge the same about her.
Now, my father has been sick as long as I can remember. His illness(es) started long before I was born, but the more severe ones didn’t kick in until around my sixth birthday. Since then we’ve been in and out of doctors, seen about every branch of medicine available, and keep a fold-out list of his medications because no form ever has enough room. He’s getting worse, and my mother and I are very open with his slow, downward spiraling health.
Eventually the two conversations overlap. He’s gone on testosterone therapy because the other medications have all but eradicated the hormone from his system. I don’t give a great deal of thought to their sex life beyond the quiet amusement that the rare nights their door is closed I assume they’re trying. Trying is the key, heartbreaking word.
Driving to the grocery store one day, I asked my mother if it was helping. We don’t discuss their sex life much at all, certainly not in specifics at this point.
She sighed, “No. I mean, it’s helping his mood, and for a while there it was helping.. some.”
I prompted her to continue.
“It’s just, it’s not..working. I mean, things…work, as they do, and the feeling is there, it’s just…not working.”
I gave her a half-frown of sympathy and told her as much was unfortunate, that it must be hard for her. It was then she said to me what has ended up being the most profound statement I’ve ever heard from her.
“You find out how much you love someone.”
It hit me then, and it hit me later all the more. My mother, a sexual person, has been unable to have sex with the man she loves for a very long time now. When I think about that, and I think about it in the context of my own relationship, with my own partner, it’s a lot to take in. Sex is a big part of my life, certainly a big part of our life as a couple. When I think about how much our relationship would be affected by the inability and lack of desire for sex, especially in the context of a couple decades, it nearly takes my breath away.
I gained a lot of perspective on that car ride. Her statement was another weighty piece in the already plenty complicated puzzle of sex, and it’s one I’m not likely to forget any time soon.