Friday, October 21, 2011
This is Your Marriage on Hospital Drugs
The euphoric combination of Not Cancer and hospital drugs lasts maybe 24 hours, tops. And what a lovely 24 hours it is.
We drive home, all four of us, like we’re coming home from the airport or something, weary from some journey, more excited than usual by ordinary things. I find some recipe on the Internet and he tells me over and over again how good it is. The kids go off to play and we have a talk, a real talk, in which we challenge ourselves and think outside our respective boxes, trying on the roles of Grown Up Husband and Wife at the height of competence, taking challenges head on, discussing solutions.
The next day, though, it’s all about pharmacy bills and deductibles and how the hell are we going to pay for this business of aging, of holding ourselves together? Maturity wants to give way to petulance, and maybe that’s really the most logical path because you know what? It’s not fair. No fair.
I always thought it would be me. It always has been me, hasn’t it, from migraines to miscarriages to the various cysts and scares. And who knows, it still could be. But him. He’s too smart for all this somehow. Too logical. The sober yin to my raging yang. How did he get here? Neither of us quite knows how to handle this perverse role reversal.
While he retreats into Stoic Adolescent, I stumble upon an old role, the role of Woman About to be Left. It’s a strange place to inhabit again, after all these years. The lying awake through sheer exhaustion and exhilaration, an awkward nestle into an odd angle of his shoulder, yearning to sleep but savoring every minute holding this sleeping person, feeling his impending distance.
Which is ridiculous, on the one hand, because nobody’s actually leaving. There are dishwashers to unload, checks to write, tedious arguments to have, emotional cues to miss, lunches to pack. It’s not like the old days. When a relationship used to make you this sad, it meant the other person was Wrong For You and the only logical course of action was to move on, set yourself free into that world of possibilities, that sea full of fish.
But now? He is just that into you. And you’re just that into him. But sadness, sometimes, just goes with the territory anyway. It’s impossible not to grow through a lifetime together and not occasionally – unintentionally – break each other’s hearts. As long as there’s still love on both sides, as long as there’s still fundamental respect and kindness…you stay.
Does it hurt more, knowing that when we do ultimately “leave” each other, it won’t be by choice? Oh yes. Hurt doesn’t even come close to describing it. Decades away, we hope, but it seems to loom so near when we get these little hospital gown’d glimpses of mortality.
So…we put it out of our minds as best we can. Enjoy each other, savor all the little poetic moments, carpe diem and so forth. And…well…keep standin’. Through love and absurdity. Stój zawsze przy nim.