Thursday 14 September 2017

In Sickness And In Health

Posted by at 5:18 PM in

While  scrolling through my half finished documents and blog notes this morning I came across something that I had written in June. I had not posted it to Life On Granite Ridge, and I am not sure why. Although, I suspect that I was feeling a bit insecure in my openness.

Reading this now was a good reminder for me to appreciate the man I married. If I am honest with myself, and with you, this is something I haven’t been doing as well as I should lately.

With the busy-ness of school and fall responsibilities my focus has perhaps been misplaced a little bit.

When my husband arrives home this evening I am going to give him an extra tight hug and I will thank him for all that he does for me and our family. And, I will mean it with my entire being.

I was growing a bit anxious sitting there in the lobby of the surgery center. I had been told that this surgery would take about 2 hours. That was 4 hours and 22 minutes ago.

The anxiety was not mingled with fear exactly. While there is always a chance of something going wrong during any surgery I had full confidence in the staff there and knew that not only were they proficient and experienced, having performed this routine knee replacement on hundreds of patience before, but they also had a very healthy low-risk patient in my husband.

The fact that we had so many friends and family members throughout the country praying at that moment was a comfort and kept any real fear at bay.

So, no this was not a fearful anxiety but more of a restlessness. 

Rather it was an empty hollow yucky feeling that made it difficult to focus on the empty computer screen in front of me. I had wrongfully hoped that a work project would offer distraction during my wait. 

I wanted to see my husband. I wanted to set my gaze on his face and comfort myself with knowing that my nearness is also a comfort to him. 

Finally. Thankfully. A metallic clang of the heavy windowless door that led to the nurses station echoed through the lobby. It was late in the day and I was alone there in the waiting room. Even the front desk staff had finished their shift and left the building. I knew that whoever was about to walk through that door was bringing news for me.

I looked up from the blank Google doc and recognized the smiling face of my husband's nurse. 

I stood and followed her through the door and past the other nurses busy with documentation and phone calls. I ducked my head to avoid the tan tweed curtain she kindly held aside for me, allowing me to enter the recovery room. I could feel the presence of my husband filling that room before I was free of the curtain and able to lift my eyes to confirm that he was indeed there.

His mind not yet fully awake and his movements slow from what remained of the anesthesia he lifted a hand toward me and I slid my fingers over his arm and then settled my own hand into his. 

As he became more aware of his surroundings and more able to focus he asked me if I had been sitting out there in the lobby waiting.

I answered him with “of course, where else would I be?” He expressed his concern for me, so sure that I had grown tired of sitting and waiting in that lobby.

But I knew that there was no where else I had wanted to be at any point during that day. My place was there with him. 

This was the man that has cared for me when my own body doesn't want to function. The one who has fumbled uncomplaining with the clasp of my necklace and the back to my earring, ensuring that I have on the jewelry I insist that I am needing to wear even though my own fingers can't feel the tiny pieces enough to secure them on my neck and in my earlobes. He's the one who offers to brush the snarls out of my hair at night when I don't have enough energy to lift my arms. And he’s the one who doesn’t lecture me when I stubbornly turn away from his offer and fight through tears because I am determined to do it for myself.

As I stood next to his hospital bed I was incredibly grateful to be there. This strong and capable husband of mine needed me as we faced the days ahead filled with recovery and medications and doctor appointments and therapy.

At every wedding I have attended, and at my own ceremony, the words, in sickness and in health, are solemnly stated. Those vows are made wholeheartedly in that moment.

But what happens when the “in sickness” actually arrives? 

What happens when chronic illness affects your spouse or surgeries are needed requiring many weeks of recovery and more hospital bills than you budgeted for?

What happens when we become our spouses caregiver or they become ours?

For my husband and I this has meant a chance to show each other what love really is.

We do not do this perfectly. There are moments of impatience and times of frustration. But through it all we’ve grown strong as teammates and partners and have learned to lean into one another instead of falling into anger or blame.

I am honored to care for this man when he needs me to and blessed to have his patience and strong comfort when I am in need.