You get these moments–so sudden and exceptional that you’re uncertain your senses are telling you the truth. You could not possibly be hearing and seeing the tableau unfolding the way it is right in front of you on an actual, literal stage in your actual life. Could you?
It’s been three weeks back to work already, and I’ve graduated from looking down at my feet, barely making eye contact to appearing maybe 68% life-like. I was panicked at the thought of returning to work. But over the course of the most recent three weeks, my husband’s progress has marched forward on the same rocket-fire trajectory he began by not dying in the first place.
Since my return, Tom’s been cleared from his Aspen collar neck brace, and from a distance resembles his pre-injury self. The scars and paralysis are visible up close, but from afar, only those acquainted with him before would notice that his one shoulder is sloped and his neck rests at an offset, asymmetrical angle. Passersby notice (read: stare at) the eye patch, but from across the table, the contour of the ear that was reattached passes enough for the original, and doesn’t every guy have some kind of scar on his forehead? Sure, Tom’s suture line is longer than the distance I can cover stretching my thumb and forefinger, but the take-away here is that his skull was fractured along an eight-inch fault line and was crushed in two other spots, but the man is walking and talking. He is a medical marvel.
Besides caring for and transporting my husband, I did nothing over the summer months. Literally nothing. For my entertainment over summer break, I got my hair cut and colored (I mean, nature really meant for me to be mostly blonde, so a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do, even when the chips are waaaaaaaay down!). I went out to lunch twice and breakfast once without my husband. Those four events are the sum total of what I did for fun between home ADLs and our near daily commute to the hospital and clinics for the constant stream of therapy appointments and physician follow-ups. The thought of something fun was strictly off-limits.
The notion of attending a concert was laughable. How was I ever going to be able to A) Leave my husband all night long after I’d already been gone at work the full day?, or B) Take my husband to a concert at a 37,000 seat outdoor venue known for public drunkenness and debauchery? And you don’t need to ask me how I know about public drunkenness and debauchery at Alpine Valley because I grew up ten miles from there and may have “heard a thing or two” many a Friday or Saturday night in my teens and early twenties. Anyway.
I’d been down the rabbit hole, slogging through some down days when Barenaked Ladies announced this tour last winter. I just wasn’t supposed to be there–couldn’t make the Ladies Ladies reunion road trip, couldn’t get to the local show. But an eleventh hour opportunity arose, so I asked Tom if he wanted to go to Friday’s BNL show. To my delight, he said he’d be excited to go. Yes, he said excited. If you’ve paid attention here at all these last several years, you’ve noticed I’m rather a fan of the band. Some cast the term obsessed in my direction, which really? Obsessed suggests unhinged and unhealthy, which is definitely not accurate; my friends and I prefer “concentrated hobby” in describing our commitment to the band. Semantics, you guys.
It may sound weird to hear a woman my age fawn all over a band, but I do love them and the music. Genuinely. They’re good humans, talented and kind men who take the time with their monster (and casual) fans. I’ve stumbled awkwardly in conversation with and verbally tripped all over them, and in return they’ve been total rock stars, which technically is redundant. Even when I’ve said some galactically stupid shit, and oh but I have!, they’ve been total pros in return. I love them.
At the close of a Barenaked Ladies show, Ed and Tyler switch places, Ed moves behind the drums and Tyler takes over lead vocals. “Actually seriously good,” in fact, according to the review in our daily paper!
At the close of last Friday night’s show, Tyler did what he does–entertains and amuses the fans who understand that the show is almost over. For us concert weirdos, the opening of the Big Bang Theory signals the beginning of the end, but the Tyler show is the end-end. He’s fun and funny up there, and the last thing he does is introduce the members of the band, himself last, usually with some goof of a name or title. But he threw in a little surprise Friday night.
After introducing the guys, and before shutting it down for good, Tyler told the crowd about some guy in the audience who they were happy to see there, this guy who had survived: Tom Weir. And while maybe three other people in the crowd knew who he was (it was at least three because they each texted me OMG emojis with lots of exclamation marks!!! within minutes), thousands “wooooo-ed” while my husband and I stood there in stunned silence as Ty dedicated their performance that night to my husband. I wish I’d known he was talking about Tom because I would have tried to commit every word to memory, but honestly, neither Tom nor I remember it exactly. Afterward, Tom told me that as Ty kept talking, he thought it sounded a little like he could possibly maybe be talking about him, but of course, that’s ridiculous! No. Though it surely has to have been a dream, it was for reals. A dream I didn’t even know I had came true (and not the dream of my husband not dying because while, yes, that’s a super good dream, I never really thought he would die until receiving “the call,” so it wasn’t on my “dream” radar).
Tom’s modesty is genuine–he didn’t do anything to earn the shout-out, although not being dead? Really, Honey, is like the top thing you can do. I can’t explain why I’ve felt kinda quiet since Friday, when after every concert it’s ALL I CAN TALK ABOUT! Maybe I’m afraid this bubble of a magical spell will shatter, become real the more I talk about it. I’ll never find the right words, and as it can, a simple “thank you” feels flat. It’s absurd to want to keep this close when tens of thousands of people heard it Friday night too.
The world has continued to show our family unbelievable good when we’ve been at our unbelievable worst. Thank you all. Maybe soon I’ll even stop writing about Tom’s injuries and return to the good old days when muscular dystrophy was my toughest row to hoe.
See, this is why my favorite band is better than your favorite band.
Closed for debate. If only they’d have found that hoodie though.