My parents had a notoriously rough first year of marriage (a rough pregnancy, my dad working long hours and trying law school, a bad burn that required my mom to get skin grafts right before she gave birth), as did my little brother and his wife (a rough pregnancy, kidney stones, etc etc.), and now, I guess, it seems safe to say that Sam and I will too.
I was on my way out the door this morning, running late, just zipping up my tall brown boots and swigging the last of my breakfast shake, when Sam found me. I was in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, and he put his arms around me, looked at the two of us in the mirror, and kissed my neck. I wondered what led to this affection, what caused him to find me in the back end of our little house. Usually, the morning is writing time: snuggle time for Sam and his computer in his office at the front. I have to tug on his sleeve to get a kiss goodbye.
A moment later, he confessed. Chest pains. A numb left arm. Throat closing up.
Off to the ER. Again. And no, our insurance hasn't kicked in yet.
After six long hours of painful, stinky waiting, it was pretty clear he was okay. No heartattack showed on the cardiogram. And we wanted to go home. The emergency room was packed: a pretty brunette with a terrifying allergic reaction to shellfish, a electrician with a racing and palpitating heart, and several large old women with mountainous bellies and sunken mouths that looked very unhappy. There were so many sick people today that they moved us out to the hall, where we waited and waited some more.
And Sam's so patient. I wanted to stomp around and insist on more pain medication, cop an attitude with the fuzzy-headed nurse, snap at the techs when they wanted to move us to the other side of the hall. This comes from my father: he taught me how to make my case in the world of retail/healthcare services, and often, I think, stand up for all that's true and deserving. But Sam's always saying that it's not their fault, that they're doing their best. I listened to him today, held off my mama-bear instincts for the most part, and I was glad I did when the nurse said so sincerely that she was sorry and she knew how frustrating it was and she appreciated how long we'd waited and could she get us anything else? I wanted to cry when she said that. I'm not sure why: because it seemed like she actually cared after all? Because I have a good husband that teaches me how to be nicer to people? Because I walked by all of these rooms with very ill-looking people curled up in wrenching exhausting pain, and I realized we are lucky, after all? Blessed to be in the relatively good health that we are?
When the doctor showed up again, and we told him we were going home, he told us, basically, that if we did, Sam could die. If something was indeed wrong with his heart, he wouldn't have any warning the next time. He could drop dead without so much as a squeak. He'd seen it too many times to tell us our plan to scram was a good idea. Sam was disappointed. He had wanted Indian food and a chocolate sundae.
So they shipped us up to the sixth floor, and there Sam stays. I'm at home, now. Munching on crackers because I don't know what to do with myself without him here. I never really got it when people talked about how easy it is to get used to sharing a bed with one's spouse, how quickly odd it feels when they're away. But it's true. I miss him. I want to snuggle up to him before I kneel to say my prayer, want to talk to him about school and his cat and what I'm reading and what he's writing and what we'll eat for dinner tomorrow.
But I shouldn't complain. At least I'm not at that dreadful place--with the beeping and rushing around and odd smells and nurses who come in to take your temperature and ask if you've had a bowel movement yet. Sam's roommate is an old man with bony shoulders who smells like he messed his pants and keeps his TV on really loud, even when he's asleep. He snores. (Although, I also snore ...)
When I left the hospital to get Sam's laptop and a book, it seemed like I needed a prize for such a harrowing day. I stopped at this little pastry/gelato shop down the street called Athen's and got a little heart-shaped strawberry mousse cake. It was pretty and pink with a chocolate foundation. And it made me forget for a moment that my husband wasn't coming home with me, that I have mountains of teaching prep and writing and submissions and department business to attend to, and I didn't do a lick of it today; that we're out here in an unfamiliar place with new jobs and new pressures and no real friends and a batch of health problems we can't currently afford. I didn't even realize the coincidence of picking a heart-shaped cake. I must have wanted to see one whole, wanted to have one pretty on a plate, wanted to take it inside where mine hurts, and Sam's hurts. Wanted to feel grateful for a moment that I could be there, afford it, quietly sit.