One Of Us Is Definitely Recovering Better Than The Other: A Tale of Two Recoveries and Some Dangerous Musical Juju
Against all odds, and in continued miraculous fashion, my husband has bested every expectation and prognosis his twenty-eight diagnoses handed him starting in May. He (I believe) overestimates his stamina, so (in my estimation) works just a bit too hard at everything he does. Naps are no luxury item; they’re necessary. You will never hear Tom complain–it’s just not in his nature, I guess–so when the “You Have to Go Back to Work” bell rings much sooner than certainly I am ready for, he’ll go. Without complaint. Therapy, exercise (his physical therapist cleared him to volley tennis balls, y’all!), returning to activities under the terms of his restrictions–he’s on it. He’s the most drama-free dude you’ll ever meet, but that doesn’t render him “cured” quite as quickly as (I believe) is being demanded.
Have I mentioned that he is amazing? He is amazing. But this looming return to work thing is freaking me right out. I’m feeling total “mama bear” mode, except the protective instinct covers my husband, so is more like “spousal bear,” but “spousal bear” lacks the imagery and verbal panache “mama bear” carries.
Four months ago, my husband was knocked down and wedged under the truck that backed over him. Slammed to the pavement, he can remember three distinct thuds of his head on the concrete, matching the stories the long crack from his eye up past the crown of his head and two crushing injuries tell. He describes watching blood pour out of his head, thinking “this might be it” as in IT, the end. The day after, he told me he never wanted me to have to know what happened to him, that it was so terrible he didn’t want me ever to have to envision it. A few days after that, fuzzy from IV meds and brain injury, he related to a team of doctors and those of us in the room the complete, gruesome chronology as he remembered it. It broke me. OK, it buckled me.
I haven’t recovered from the crash near as well as my husband has. I remember a thousand different details he can’t. I don’t know what it’s like anymore not to worry about him every second he’s alive.
We do this thing at our monthly meetings at work, where we acknowledge good deeds and kind words, a public thank you to colleagues who’ve helped others in the spirit of collegiality and professionalism. Our supervisor reads them to the department when we assemble as one; we don’t get pay raises or bonuses, so it’s a small way we can recognize each other and give verbal pats on the back. I’d written a bouquet to thank our department for the wonderful messages of concern and support during the early days post-accident and since then for my supervisor to share. Instead of her reading those few lines, she asked if I wanted to get up and say something myself. I did not want to get up and say something myself. I’m much clearer in writing, and I cry less easily and frequently behind the keyboard, but what do you do when put on the spot? You get up and you say something. In the maybe fifteen seconds it took me to reach the microphone, everything flooded back. I could picture myself talking to the police in the waiting room before seeing him the first time, convinced the lack of information meant he had to be paralyzed. I could envision the Emergency Department treatment area, hearing him barely able to utter “There’s so much pain.” I could see the stitches and staples holding his swollen face and head together. I could picture myself standing in the hallway outside the family center, calling my mom asking for help with the kids and late that first night, getting the late-night text from my best friend asking if everything was OK because I’d called her twice–late–without leaving a message.
I don’t even know what I said at our meeting last week, but I know that 184 people were silent as I stood there rambling. I am not recovering as well as my husband is, but with weeks of practice now, I can pass as a mostly functional person. Really, I should be short-listed for outstanding female lead performance in a human drama.
Today’s my birthday, and as per tradition in our house, my birthday “surprise” was outed long before the actual day. My husband is hands-down the absolute worst secret keeper on the planet. He had promised me Hamilton tickets for Christmas last year, then didn’t buy them because his cheap-o wife suggested waiting until after the holiday rush, hoping ticket prices would return to not-Christmas-purchase-frenzy prices. Then he forgot, which I don’t know how possibly he could, me all performing My Shot 100% accurately and pouting over not going pretty much on the daily. Eventually I bought tickets for the May 10 show, with the plan we’d each take off work that Friday, our wedding anniversary, spending the day with our Founding Fathers and maybe a nice dinner in Chicago. The universe had other plans for us, and the accident canceled that itinerary.
So we’re hopping the Amtrak to see Hamilton today (happy birthday to me)! I feel like the universe has already asserted itself, telling me in no uncertain terms I am not meant to see this show though. Like something bad is going to happen when we spit in the face of the pre-ordained plan–I mean we have been warned! What if I actually find myself in the room where it happens (sing it with me)? Superstitious weirdo stuff from me? Maybe. Yes. I mean, it’s super unlikely my husband will get run over again, but who knows what else the universe has up its sleeve?? I shouldn’t be going, and we are spitting in its face. But it’s time for us to move forward, universe. Be kind to us, will ya? It’s my birthday after all.