Today I am just a wife.
Many days, I am more than a wife.
I am a writer, healer, logistical coordinator, director, strategist, driver, unorthodox problem solver, cleaner, project manager, problem solver, go getter.
I am creative, sensitive, perfectionist, brave, flexible and stubborn.
The “we” is even more dynamic than the “I.”
Recently, we wrote copy for our new website (which is coming soon!). We talked about when we are at our best we are: creative, spontaneous, confident, personal, breaking barriers down, tangible, human view, versatile, and humorous.
And we produce: clarity, connection—written & interpersonal, open mindedness, a sense of freedom, space, tools to persevere and communication.
But today, I am just a wife.
It began on Sunday, returning home from an amazing trip to Washington State where we spoke two sessions “Moving Through Personal Fears” and “Creating Healthy Relationships” at the Wise Community Summit, read at a local open mic poetry night at the local market, and had a chance to take an afternoon to enjoy being with each other. We sat at the picnic table holding hands, meandering down the path to enjoy the afternoon view of the mountains, and smiled over wine, olives and Bruschetta.
Arriving home, Barton had crashed out with an afternoon nap, and I was still rumbling about the house cleaning and organizing, settling into the week ahead. But that night, we found that Bear was bleeding. Was it the steak bone he ate before we left on our trip, was it a bacterial infection that always happens in the summer with the wet humid air, was it an old dog showing signs of aging?
I agonized over what to do calling out, “I can’t lose my dog and my husband in the same week.”
Whoa. Where did that come from? Pulling out hidden fears that surfaced in one fellow swoop.
Worries show themselves after we have gone to bed, where I think about all the things we haven’t done yet. We haven’t driven our MV-1 up Mount Washington or to California, we haven’t had a child, we haven’t published our second books, we haven’t made the impact in the world that we know is within reach. We haven’t finished yet.
I worry about things that don’t matter. The cracked kitchen floor tile, what projects a colleague is working on, the pile of paper that needs to be thrown out.
And I close my eyes, focusing on what has to be done the next morning.
Walk bear, morning writing, get Barton up, drive us to Durham, run to the grocery store, go to the post office, be at home for Barton’s new wheelchair delivery, put away they dishes, complete my own writing projects. The day moves without thought.
Here, in this space, I am more than just a wife.
But today is different.
Barton is having surgery to replace his Baclofen Pump, a device that sends medicine to his spine to calm muscle spasms. Every seven years, the battery runs out, and it has to be replaced. It’s a normal procedure.
But nothing has ever been normal for us.
The last time Barton had surgery, we weren’t in the best place as a couple. He was advised to have it replaced because a piece in the motor could malfunction. The surgeon found the medicine pouch and the tube to the spinal column was not connected at all, and everything was replaced.
No, nothing is ever “normal.”
We live in the extraordinary.
During the last surgery, I was allowed to go back into post-op, to hold Barton’s hand and stare at his face to study every freckle, every mole, every eyelash for what seemed like an eternity. I was allowed to stay overnight where I made jokes to try to get Barton to “go.” And at home, Bear refused to leave Barton’s side would come running to get me, Barton still sick from the anesthesia residue.
I had no idea what to expect, how the fears within each of us would play out, how some form of caretaking was needed for both of us. How at home, the help was not always helpful, and I found myself hiding out at a local coffee shop a week after Barton’s surgery.
Will everything go un-normally normal for us in this cycle? Sometimes it’s what happens before what actually happens.
Mid-week, the emotions hit, and I couldn’t focus on anything. The too long list of things to get done before the surgery overwhelmed me to the point of not doing anything. On the drive home, I pouted, “We’re in such a good place, and I don’t want anything to happen.”
Barton laughed, “It’s because we’re in such a good place that nothing will.”
Still, I have to remind myself to breathe.
Today, everything else will melt away.
And it takes energy to give myself permission to let everything fall out of focus.
It does not matter what projects are due. It does not matter that the milk was not put away or the dishes were not done. Or that the bills still sit unopened on the kitchen counter. Or the number of calls on my cell phone that go unanswered.
Tomorrow, roles and words will seep back into my skin. We will scoop up responsibilities and carry them on their way.
And the days will move on.
But for today, I am just a wife.
(As an update, Barton looks great and is recovering well).