In Sickness

And in health.

I stumbled on that vow. I hesitated forming the words. I stood in that beautiful Church facing my handsome husband and I faltered……

What I wanted to say was in sickness and in sickness. I knew I was marrying a type 1 diabetic. I had experience with one in 2004, an uncle I loved dearly. I was also raised by a step-dad with polio. I knew sickness. I was raised with sickness. I embraced this man’s sickness because that is what I vowed to do. In health? Not so much. It was the sickness I pledged to stand by.

For richer or poorer, meh, I’ll take either.

Love and honor – absolutely.

Until death due us part – I wouldn’t miss a thing. Life is a gift. Scratch that. Life with him is a gift.

Today, I write this blog post from a hospital room.

My husband started feeling worse and worse a few days after the wedding. He hadn’t been feeling completely well for a while. He had gone to the urgent care center a week before the wedding and got diagnosed with bronchitis. They gave him an antibiotics shot, but he still hadn’t quite kicked it ten days later. When breathing laying down got difficult, and his face started swelling. He ventured back to the neighborhood clinic.

They took an x-ray of his lungs and compared it with ten days before, along with his blood work. The x-ray showed more fluid build-up on his lungs, and the blood work showed loss of blood – significantly. Enough that they recommended him going to the ER with their blessing. I couldn’t believe it when he called me.

What? Emergency room? Double pneumonia? Hemoglobin drop? WHAT?

I met him there and waited in the ER. What I expected was an IV of antibiotics and a possible over night stay. But that wasn’t to be. While there was fluid on his lungs, there was not a rise in white blood cells. Nor was he feverish, coughing, or showing signs of pneumonia. The ER doctor that came to admit him advised us, it was not pneumonia, but looked more like congestive heart failure.

Heart failure. *gulp*

My jaw dropped to the floor. My heart and stomach quickly followed.

*PLOP*

All splayed out in a pile of, “What the crap!”. Four days ago I said I DO, or I will, or actually I said vow by vow repeated after the minister in front of God, and 70 or so witnesses. I had no idea how fast those bonds would be put to the test.

I trust God. I do. There are so many blessings about this moment. We had canceled the honeymoon to Canada because of Jason’s mom. It was possible she would have a second surgery this week and we didn’t want to be out of the country when it happened. Come to find out, she did not, but she did get moved out of ICU. We got to talk to her the day before our ER visit. It was wonderful news. It was joyful tears to love on her awake and aware and I’m glad we didn’t miss it.

I am also glad we were not in Canada and unsure of the health care and procedures. I am glad we were not thousands of miles away from our friends and family. I am glad we were not on top of Whistler Mountain – far away from anywhere or anything. I am glad we were not zipping through time and space on an airplane high up in the sky. So many things….that could have been so much worse.

Instead, we take the hospital honeymoon trip. Complete with an HD TV.

Three delicious meals a day by room service (for him anyway). Daily social visits by doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists. Tons of time together. No kids or dogs. I can even get coffee most hours of the day in the waiting room concierge lounge. It’s all-inclusive folks. Stop being so jealous.

And hey, it’s like camping…..

We are on day three here. All we know for sure is that his heart is not damaged. He does have an enlarged left ventricle, but that is not completely uncommon for a diabetic man with high blood pressure. They were able to relieve him of five LITERS of fluid, so he can breathe easier although there is still fluid on and in his lungs.

We have a test on Monday to check for artery blockage and to fix them if he has any through a heart cath. If it’s not that, it could be a number of things they are hoping to eliminate with tests. Nothing is determined, and not much has been ruled out. It could be congestive heart failure, or it could be a mean virus that caused cardiac issues.

No matter what it is. No matter what our future holds with his health. I will be here.

In sickness, and in sickness……because that is what I pledged to do six days ago.

Time goes on

Two years go by, but I’ll never forget. I still remember like it was yesterday. The day we held your service and placed you to rest.

I look back on this day, as if it were crystallized in my mind. The hot August sun. The crispy graveyard grass. The beautiful spray of flowers across your handsome gray casket. I try to be strong for my mom. I know she needs me, but when Charley Pride’s, I’ll fly away, plays at the service. I lose my composure a bit. I have memories of riding in your big yellow Lincoln town car listening to Charley Pride sing, Mountain of Love. The first song I ever heard by him. It was one of those I could hear over and over, as you did when you were seven. You really got a kick out of that. To hear his voice again brought such happy tears, and sad ones.

You flew away – oh glory – to a home on God’s celestial shore. A piece of my heart flew with you – is still with you. Always.

The comfort of today is that you are free, just as your beautiful gravestone says.


    I’m free
    Be not burdened with times of sorrow
    I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
    My life’s been full, I’ve savored much,
    good friends, good times,
    a loved ones touch.
    Lift up your hearts and share with me,
    God wanted me now;
    He set me free.

Father, confidant, supporter, encourager, most patient man in the world – stepfather and treasure. Times goes on….but your memories are alive in my beating heart.

I see the sun and you are in it.

I’m not getting married

…again,” she said firmly, eyes flashing. “I mean never. I am not doing this again. Going through all this stuff. The end, after twenty-two years. Mark my words. It’s not worth it.”

The discussion dashed out, dancing angrily in the air, walking with us on the park path. She said it with such conviction. Not a shred of doubt in her voice. I had to look at her face to see the hardness in her eyes and the set of her mouth.

I sighed inside. It’s not what I wanted for her. Me, who divorced twice. Me, who knew the journey she was choosing included a darker path than the one we walked toward the woods. Destination agony. The light as far away as it was now, and just as hard to reach. The bitter battle boiling as she marched towards the front lines – divorce.

The trail became somber and dark. The only sound, a whispering of our foot scraps, a slight huff of our breath. I silently pondered what to say – how to say – I’m sorry…….

Or I’m happy for you…..

No words seem right in these situations. Especially when you are talking with someone you love.

I am responsible for this. Wasn’t she following my lead? Didn’t I make this divorced life seem fun and interesting? Hadn’t I given her all my books on self-help? Was it the novel, Eat, Love, and Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert, infecting her need to find herself? Journey off to Italy to banish the demons, meditate with a guru in India, and be whatever it took, to finally find her happiness. But would she? Would she really? Because it would be mighty easy to just be bitter.

To hate men for the rest of her life. She wanted a lover in her future with no strings attached. HER. Mrs. Goody two-shoes of all time. A so-called life of fling with someone who wouldn’t commit, couldn’t commit, nor love her. Is that what she thought she deserved? To be smacked with inconsideration, and heartlessness. This was her freedom?

She was certain this is what she wanted. “I’m not getting married again – ever” her speech stabbed the air sharply and just as quickly lost its punch.

“It’s too painful.”

Like knocking back a shot of suffering, she went on with a little too much cheer. She explained the joys of a single apartment. The endless trips to IKEA. The privacy. She would live right next to the hospital she worked at. The security guards she knew could keep an eye on her, and tell her which apartments had the lowest crime. She couldn’t WAIT. But still….it was so different. She had always been caretaker, and home keeper. She was brilliant at it. Entertaining, nourishing children, tables over flowing with guests, country crafts being made, and calendars full of nonstop events. To go from Susie Homemaker to the spinster aunt? It just didn’t seem right.

My heart broke for her decision. Not because I didn’t want her to not marry again, but because even though I was fresh from divorce, I didn’t feel hate towards marriage. I knew it could be a glorious thing with people who jointly wanted to work at it. That sought God above all else – without selfishness, without blame, or worthlessness. That chose to sacrifice for a love that fills every hole. But she was tender. A fresh shoot, so fragile and she needed me to listen and to understand her angst.

I felt it was my fault. She admired my strength and felt weak in that towering shadow. But no, it wasn’t me. It was her life. Her choice. All I could do was support her through what she was going through. Be there with her, through every stinging barb, and every cry. Eventually the darkness would fade away. Eventually the pathway would brighten. Eventually the wounds would heal and there, on the other side, we would meet. In the bright light of sweet peace with arms wide open to welcome her new life.

My dear sister….you glow today and I haven’t even seen you yet. I am standing in that ring of light – so happy for you. I knew you would find your way to your true heart path. I knew, you’d be here as hard as it was. Today, you marry your best friend and soul mate. Today, a man opens his heart to you after being scared and widowed for long, long time. Today, you become step mom to young Leighann and beautiful Chelsea; a critically ill special needs child that only someone like you would accept and love as your own. Today, we celebrate the light in you both, that found its way from the gloom of despair and devastation – from loss and divorce – to the wonders of amazing love. Today, we celebrate………………………again!

“Success in marriage is much more than finding the right person; it is a matter of being the right person”

-Anonymous

Congratulations Roger and Deedy. June 12th, 2010. Stay tuned for photographs through the tears. You might even recognize the flower girls.

Fear and Loathing at my Duplex

In my duplex.

About my duplex.

If this were a facebook relationship status, it would read “it’s complicated”.

Of course then ALL my friends would comment.

What’s going on? Did duplex do something to you? Can you not commit to duplex? Has duplex been housing a shady tenant on the side? A plugged commode? Can you call the house whisperer? I hate to see a three-year relationship end so badly.

I would assure all the well wishers gossipers it’s not the duplex, it’s me.

I’ve had an affair. An affair with my future husband’s house. The shame of it, because I still LOVE you duplex. I still NEED you. But I’ve slipped in my attentions.

I didn’t tend to the flower pots this year. Nope. I planted pots at the new house, just like last year. And I didn’t make garden beds like I had always hoped, but I did plant in the garden beds at the new house. How disparaging.

This is hard. SO HARD. I love your new duplex smell. I love your embrace when I come home at all hours of the night after spending it with my other place. There is no judging, or weeping. Just a poignant sigh (or maybe that’s me). I love how you are my safe haven when I need it; my quiet sanctuary. I love the roominess, yet compactness. The delights of having an extra bedroom, and a big garage. The tiny but – oh so handy – backyard.

Do you know what I love most? You’re mine. My place.

Just being in your realm brings me great peace and comfort. To leave, to say good-bye it’s….. devastating.

I don’t want to. I don’t. But the upkeep to keep this sweet spot on the side, well, it’s steep. Too rich for my poorness. With four and half months until the wedding, with a lease that’s expiring in three days – what makes sense is to move most things to the new house and lease a last fling apartment for six months.

An apartment. A fling. I know. Sick. It’s not a duplex kind of love. It would be a one bedroom, not three. No yard. No front nook with a mini black lab statue. No extra bathroom. No garage. No empty flower pots. ALL my things would be stored, sold, or moved somewhere. I’d be in limbo. I’d live with a toe in the door there, and a half a body here, an address there, and the rest of my body parts scattered in between.

I’m torn.

I’m sad.

I have to write the thirty-day notice to the master developer today (aka-leasing office). It’s killing me. I want a happy ending for us. I want to remember with gladness how you were there for me during an extremely difficult first year of residence. It was you that heard every tear, every sob, every cry.

You absorbed my pain into your walls. Your heart grieved with mine. You watched me grow as a person. You watched me survive. You watched me heal. You screamed with me when we cleaned yet another puppy accident. You didn’t even complain when Sydney, at age thirteen and bratty, sprayed your walls with silly string (which is still there). You watched with great pride as I snapped a picture of my little girl going to her first day of high school. What memories we have. The many memories of just Sydney and just me. Together, but on our own. To leave is breaking me apart. Breaking us apart.

I have to tell myself you are just a place. Everything we shared is inside of me. New people will come and you will be home once more. You won’t stay vacant. There is a reason and a season – a time for everything – and ours has reached the end. It’s not really the end, just a new beginning. A new home. A new transition for a moment in time.

Truth is, I fear. I fear being without you. *My place* You are my crutch. We’ve been through it all. If I kick your address to the curb, there is no return.

With a heavy heart, I humbly thank you. I am grateful I had you to go to. I’m glad you were my duplex. No other duplex would have made me feel as safe and as loved as you did. But it’s time to move on, write that notice, and fully invest in my new house (with a fling). You are deserving of so much more than me. You deserve a family that spends more time with you.

So, here’s to our last thirty days together, let’s turn the ceiling fans on high, take a last poop scoop of the yard, then run like banshees up and down the hall, while singing off-key and celebrating all of life’s memories as one.

May your walls echo my great joy, for as long as you shall stand.