Peggy is going to have back surgery for two slipped lumbar disks and one extrusion (the inside of the disk is being squeezed out of the disk). It's her third surgery ever (I'm up to around twenty), and the other two weren't as scary.
Peggy's back started hurting her out of the blue two months ago, but she wouldn't go to the doctor until she was fighting back tears. Then came an MRI, steroids, and a two week wait to see a surgeon (Carmina Angeles). I told Carmina that I knew Peggy to be in a lot of pain because Peggy is in the habit of hiding her pain, but she has been unable to hide this. Carmina said she's seen grown men cry and grown women crawl into her office begging for surgery when their MRIs looked like Peggy's.
Peggy has a friend named W___ who has been in love with her for at least two decades. W___ and I were good friends for years, but when his last marriage failed (he's had five failed relationships in the thirty years we've known him, two of which were marriages), he no longer wanted to be around me. He wouldn't say why, but I suspected that it was because he saw me as a barrier between him and Peggy. I suspected this strongly enough that I wouldn't have stood between him and a cliff-top, yet I couldn't be certain that I was right. When I had my knee replacement last August, he stayed at the hospital for every waking moment (of the three days) that he wasn't at work, and he treated me so lovingly that I came to trust that he wanted to be friends again. When I got out of the hospital and he ignored me completely, I felt hurt and pressed (over three emails) for an explanation. After my third email, he responded with but one word ("Stop"), and I concluded that he hadn't spent all those hours at the hospital in order to support me but rather to support Peggy.
Now that it's Peggy's turn to go into the hospital, I anticipate him wanting to stay with her. I told her that I wouldn't be comfortable with that, and she said that: (1) his welcome would be contingent upon him apologizing for that email; and (2) she won't tell him that she expects such an apology unless he says that he intends to come to the hospital. In other words, she's unwilling to broach the subject of him coming to the hospital, but if he broaches it, she won't demand that he answer my question, but she will demand that he apologize to me for his response. Such an apology wouldn't mean squat to me because all I would take from it would be that W___ was willing to fake an apology in order to stay at the hospital with Peggy. My best guess is that he will either not bring up the subject of coming to the hospital and afterwards not come, or that he will show-up unannounced.
Peggy doesn't plan to tell him when she's going to the hospital in order to avoid the latter scenario, but I'm confident that he will be able to figure it out. If he should simply show up, I'll just bear it the best I can because it certainly wouldn't be a good time for a row, and because I wouldn't see it as my right to tell him to leave. For Peggy's sake, I can but hope he won't come, and this makes me wonder if she's doing right by not telling him upfront what she expects of him if he wants to come. She could, of course, ask the hospital to withhold her room number, but what a sad commentary that would be upon their friendship. In fact, it would be such a sad commentary that it would suggest--to me--that their friendship was damned near dead.
But regardless of what Peggy does, here's my problem: should I try to put aside my feelings, and tell Peggy that I would be okay with him coming to the hospital without offering an apology since his apology would be meaningless to me? While I wouldn't anticipate her changing her mind about demanding that he apologize, this isn't about what she says to him, but about what I say to her. My thought is that, if out of love for her, I were able to put aside my feelings, it might at the very least alleviate some of the tension she must be feeling given that she cares deeply for W___, and that, if circumstances were different, having him there would mean a lot to her.
Peggy and I hadn't talked about this post until just now (two days after it was put online). She said that I seem to have misunderstood her in that, even if I said it was okay for W___ to come to the hospital, she wouldn't want him there unless he apologized to me because she recognizes that his presence would (1) cause me unhappiness, and (2) would make it harder for me to be emotionally present for her. She was also concerned that my post might be interpreted as portraying her as being on the fence about whom she wants to be her life's partner, although she is firm in her commitment to me alone.