Wes and I have been married eight years now. Well, technically, seven years fifty one weeks. Our eighth wedding anniversary is next week and I’ve had much occasion to think about the vows we took that day in 2005.
You see, Wes had minor surgery last week. As I’ve learned from my own brushes with surgery, however, even surgery that’s preceded by the word “minor” means pain and limitations for a good long while.
It was difficult for me to watch Wes get prepped for surgery. Part of the reason, I think, is that there was a strange reversal of roles. Well, there tried to be. Rather, I tried to let there be but it didn’t work out. You see, Wes is the emotionally steady, unshakeable, indefatigable rock of our marriage. He’s confident, he’s calm, he’s rational. I’m a bit more excitable. You can measure my emotional highs and lows with a Richter scale, and because of my inexhaustible imagination I am quite good at conjuring worries where there needn’t be.
Prior to his surgery, I kept asking Wes how he was doing, prepared to comfort him if he needed it. He was fine and in no need of pep talks. Despite his stoic calm, I told myself it would not be permissible to worry. In no universe is it ok to make my husband comfort me before he goes in to surgery.
And then the nurse told him it was time to go back to the OR and my treasonous eyes cried a little, despite my sternest warnings that they were to remain steadfast and dry. Wes laughed at me.
During the surgery, I fretted. I gnawed my lip, I picked at my cuticles, I looked up every time someone walked by, I all but paced the tiny waiting room. When two hours had gone by on what was supposed to be a 60-90 minute surgery, I started feeling a bit frantic. I just wanted to see him with my own eyes to make sure he was ok.
The nurses took pity on me and let me come back to the recovery area a little early, and then something interesting happened.
Wes was in a lot of pain and extremely groggy, but I was fine. It wasn’t until I was bringing the car around to come get him that I started feeling rattled, but then as soon as he was in the car next to me I was a rock. I finally got the chance to be the steadfast one!
The next few days passed in a blur of the hundreds of menial little tasks you do when you’re taking care of someone post-op, and it seemed to me the perfect way to spend the weeks leading up to our anniversary. Because a relationship untested is a relationship unreliable.
It’s been nice to meditate on the “In sickness and in health” part of our marriage vows this last week, to be there for Wes the way he’s been there for me so many times before.
Of course, everything is almost back to normal now. Wes is still required to take it easy (ha!) and not allowed to lift anything heavier than ten pounds (so no kids), but he’s back to being Super Man and I’m back to being…Well, me.
Here’s hoping 2014 involves a lot fewer trips to the O.R.