Bedeviled by My Wife's Dementia
Image: Milles Studio / Stocksy

Liam, my 10-year-old friend, recently asked me if I was a philosopher.

“Yes,” I replied.

“What do philosophers do?”

“We think a lot about arguments,” I said.

That seemed to satisfy him, and it satisfied me. But philosophy is deeper than arguments. It also summons reflection on the grisly vicissitudes of life—what breaks the heart and binds it back together. Philosophy originally was a discipline for finding out not just how to think, but how to live.

I am that rare person who has found my vocation and avocation to be one. I don’t need to escape into hobbies to compensate for my day job. As Robert Frost put it in “Two Tramps in Mud Time”:

Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

I do what I love, and it usually benefits others. Research and teaching and mentoring is where I flourish. The gifts given to me have been confirmed, as the late seminary professor Howard Hendricks would say, by finding people with the gift of benefiting from my teaching and writing.

For years I’ve pondered the topic of lament. This is partially due to my melancholic nature; I once read a book called Against Happiness—and enjoyed it. But my wife, Becky, is the main reason for my scrutiny of this topic. A gifted writer and editor, Becky had been bedeviled by a bevy of chronic illnesses, each year worse than the year before. None were fatal. All were miserable. They handed down not a death sentence, but a life sentence. It was ailment upon ailment without respite. We lamented as we sought relief.

The losses compounded and gathered into a pattern of a ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this IssueComing to Terms with a Post-Christian World
Coming to Terms with a Post-Christian World Subscriber Access Only
Our culture is radically rejecting Christian faith; our response must be radical, too.
RecommendedBarnabas Piper Isn't Hiding from His Divorce
Barnabas Piper Isn't Hiding from His Divorce
The writer, speaker, podcaster, and pastor’s kid opens up about the burdens of watching a marriage die.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Bedeviled by My Wife's Dementia
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2015

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.