Monday, September 24, 2012

Thirty-four years and going strong

That 70's hair.
I met my husband thirty-four years ago today. Now, whether "today" is the 23rd or the 24th depends on your perspective and your time zone. So we either met really late at night on the 23rd, or really early in the next morning.

I prefer to say we met on September 23, because that means we've been together one day longer. And, since it was the continuation of that day rather than the beginning of the next one, I think it's fair.

You see, it was the week after my birthday, and one of my girlfriends decided we needed to go out and celebrate. So we made the rounds of a few local watering holes. And a few more. And when the bars with the regular licenses closed, we went to the one with the late license. It didn't get hoppin' until after 2am.

Ah, to be young and ... young.

My intention that night wasn't to meet someone. I just wanted to hang out with my friend and not be bothered by guys. I was a little bored with the tired pickup lines, and I was on-and-off dating someone who I knew would be completely off very soon. I wasn't anxious to leap into dating someone else.

So when Bob showed up and offered to buy a drink, I wasn't particularly interested. Then he said a few things that made me laugh, and I thought I wouldn't mind talking to him a little more. We talked until the bar closed.

He suggested we go for coffee, so we went to a local diner that was on my home turf. And we talked and talked and talked ... and then I noticed that it was very very bright outside. Yep, we'd talked all night. And we just kept talking. Every darned day after that. If we didn't see each other, we talked on the phone. For hours. And we laughed a lot.

And then one magical day we said, "I love you" to each other. And I think we've said that every single day since then. Every. Single. Day.

Well, he's not talking much now, because he's still in the hospital and breathing through a ventilator. But I say it to him every day. And sometimes he looks at me and moves his lips, and sometimes he's too sedated to respond. But I say it anyway and I believe he hears me.

We've been together 34 years, over 12,000 days, and it's not nearly enough. I see him in that hospital bed and when he's having a bad day it feels like someone's ripping the heart out of my chest. When he's having a good day, I feel light and sparkly and joyful and hopeful.

He's got a long recovery ahead of him, but the doctors and nurses are doing everything they can to get him healthy enough to come home. Me, I'm taking it one day at a time. Sometimes the best I can do is one hour at a time, or one breath at a time or one heartbeat at a time. And then another and another. And then the minute is the hour, the hour is the day, and we've made it through another rough patch and we can think about having a better day tomorrow.

It's been difficult. It will continue to be difficult. For the past 18 days, I've been mostly useless. I go to the hospital and come home and maybe go back again. Sometimes my visits are short, and sometimes they're longer. When I'm home, I think about him at the hospital. And then I call to see how he's doing. And sometimes I get calls from the hospital.

I've spent a lot of time whining, whimpering, and crying. Sleep does not come easy. I've learned more medical terms than a normal person should need to know. But the nurses have been wonderful and supportive. And they make sure I'm taking care of myself, which is the hardest thing for me to do.

But life has to go on. I need to pick myself up and get myself back on track. No matter how many people have offered help, there are things that won't get done unless I do them. I have unopened mail scattered around that needs to be opened, emails that need to be answered, bills that need to be paid, floors that need to be cleaned, and an ailing dog who needs more attention than she's gotten in the past few weeks.

Soon, I'm going to tackle all those things, one little bit at a time, because that's about all I can handle. I'm going to have to start figuring out the financial implications of this hospitalization. It's going to be daunting, I'm sure, but we'll manage. I've been broke before. It's not the worst thing that could happen. And I refuse to believe that the worst will happen.

I have also decided that for the sake of my own sanity, I absolutely have to keep a positive outlook. If Bob's condition remains the same for a day, that is not bad news. It means that nothing else has gone wrong, and I can be thankful for that. If something goes wrong and the doctors and nurses find a way to diagnose it and fix it, that's good news. Because they are finding all the things that are wrong and they are dealing with them, one piece at a time.

There are fewer things going wrong now than last week, and more things going right. More tests coming back, and more plans being made for his treatment. We are moving in a good direction. He will not be home next week, but I have every intention of stuffing him with turkey at Thanksgiving.

I am not a bright-eyed crazy optimist. I know that things can go wrong. And they have. I have a whole list of things that could have gone tragically wrong, but they didn't because the doctors and nurses were there to intervene. So every day that he sees even a little improvement is a wonderful day, and I'm not letting anyone take that joy away from me.

Not only do I need to stay positive for my own sanity, I need to stay positive for Bob. If he's conscious enough to know I'm there, I'm sure it's better to see me smiling and telling him that things are better. Seeing me weeping and gnashing my teeth will do him no good.

And I have to stay positive so I can think straight enough to get back to work on a regular basis. That means more cooking, more recipes, and more blog posts from me. It means I might start eating more regular meals, which is a bonus. There have been some very, very odd meals at odd hours in the past few weeks, that's for sure.

The guest bloggers will still be filling in while I get back into the rhythm, but you should be seeing more of me around these parts as time goes on.

I can hope that all the news coming from the hospital will be good, but I know better than that. There will be minor setbacks along the way; hopefully they will be few and they will be very small. But he's in the right place. These things are not new to the hospital staff. They know what to do. They have the medications, the equipment, the knowledge, and the compassion necessary to take care of him. And I trust that they'll give him back to me soon to feed and take care of and love.

Meanwhile, we just need to hang on to each other for one more heartbeat, one more breath, and one more day. We'll get through this.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who has been so supportive during this very difficult time. I've made so many friends through blogging and through food groups, and online ... and I've reconnected with old friends on Facebook. The online world is amazing. I wish I could hug you all.

Or send you cookies. The good kind, not the computer kind.

I know I haven't answered a lot of your comments, but that's just because something goes all funny with my eyes and then I can't see through the blur. But that's a good thing, and I love reading what you say. 

Oh - and that photo? That was taken shortly after I met Bob. You may laugh at the hair if you're so inclined, but I really loved the curls. Do you hear music? Hmmm... could it be ... Disco Inferno?