We’ve kept it quiet, you and me. Only told our families, a few friends. But you haven’t been able to move well most of the winter. The mornings were excruciating, you rolled slow out of bed, remaining on your hands and knees, crawling, until you could finally stand up. All day long, you hardly ever sat down; it’s too hard to stand back up. There was a visit to the ER, that day when you finally admitted that the pain was unbearable, tears in your eyes, and then the X-rays, chiropractors, doctors, a bottle of prescription painkillers. There were heating pads and ice packs, you could hardly feel your hands by the afternoon.
Worst of all, there was pain.
They said a disc nearly ruptured in your spine. Now there is physiotherapy and traction once a week. You’re slowly moving again, it’s all helping. There’s a long list of lifestyle changes looming and, in the evenings, you lay flat on your back in the living room while I pull your leg – literally – until your spine releases that disc of nerves and you breathe easy again for another night.
The worst part, my love, is that I have not been that good about it, have I? It’s already taking everything in me to keep the wheels on the busy little family these days – three tinies, homeschooling, figuring out how to go back to Mercy now that mat leave is ending, researching that last sample chapter for my book proposal. Then your thesis and grad school plus oh-yeah-a-full-time-job, we never see you, so I’m handling everything for our lives that you’ve always done, too, I hate dealing with auto body shops but here I am, signing papers, inspecting the dent repair job. Everything needs to be cleaned and seriously, I just did laundry yesterday so why in the world are the bins already full again?
I’m so tired that I don’t have much compassion left for you. Now there are doctor appointments. Even when I shift in the the bed, you wince, and I roll my eyes like great, one more thing, just what I needed right now. What bad timing for a back injury, couldn’t you have planned this better?
Love looks like this sometimes: I’m sorry I’ve been a jerk.
This morning, when you woke up, you eased out of bed and it didn’t take an hour to stand up and move. My hands were gentle on your back last night, I was praying life and healing into you at 3:13 AM, after Evelynn woke up for the second time and I came to bed, compelled to pray for you, beloved. Thirteen years ago that very day, I had said yes to going out with you to a hockey game.
That was a good call. And a good date. And it’s a good life.
I walked out to our kitchen, baby on my hip, mascara smudges under my eyes, but you’d already been here in the night. The balloons were tied to the chairs for the tinies, even a little tiny one tied onto the highchair, a little monkey valentine for each of them signed Love Daddy.
There was a bouquet of daises for me because you know I have no use for roses, we love flowers that look like they came from a grandmother’s backyard garden. So we keep giving each other simple things like forgiveness and prayer and inside jokes. We say I love you and mean it in a way we couldn’t have imagined all those years ago or even yesterday.