Christmas Layers
Christmas 2016: a Record of Imperfect, Perfect Moments

I Guess I Will Have to Forgive Him Or, the Continuing Trials of A Recuperating Husband

("In Which I Reveal Several Despicable Things About Myself" might also be a good title. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

I saw an old family friend at the library today, and we started talking about our families and how they’ve been since we last talked. When I told her about Kendell’s heart surgeries, she said “I bet you are taking great care of him.” She’s known me since I was three years old so perhaps she has some memory of me as a kind, nurturing, nurse-esque person.

I did not guffaw. At least out loud.

But I do have to tell you: this taking care of a post-surgical husband is hard work.

Don’t get me wrong. I love him, and I want to take care of him. But I am not, deep down in my nature, a natural caregiver. (There are many reasons I am not a nurse; poop is a pretty big one, but that lack I feel inside myself to want to rush to take care of someone’s physical needs is another.) I can fetch water and rub sore muscles and make sure the germy surfaces are de-germed, but I don’t intuitively know what to do. And during recuperation times, when I am needed much more than normal, I start to get a little bit resentful. Old arguments resurface, old frustrations reemerge.

Plus my natural need for solitude is interrupted.

(If you are still reading this after I’ve revealed my selfish coldness to you…thanks!)

Helping a spouse recuperate is not easy.

But do you know when it is especially hard? In December. (I know this for sure now, as we’ve done it for two Decembers in a row.) Because there’s so much other stuff that needs to get done. You know, like…buying gifts. Or at least a gift for my husband. My husband who wants to go everywhere that I go because he’s bored sitting at home. (Can you see me now? Purposefully not writing about how readers never get bored? Do I sound too proud of my ability to entertain myself? I’ll stop now.)

It’s hard to surprise a person who is always with you.



Goofy couple selfie
(In case you were wondering: this is what it looks like when I try to take a cute couple selfie just to celebrate the fact that we accomplished some Christmas shopping.)

And this year I didn’t want to get just any gift. I wanted to get him something awesome because holy *&*$#(@, this has been a rough year for him. A rough fifteen months. I wanted to find something that would be memorable and let him know he is loved and help him to feel that despite all the sucky medical experiences he’s had to go through, life is pretty awesome because look at that gift!

But not only have I been unable to go shopping without him…it hardly matters because I have had zero brilliant ideas as to what to give him. I mean, really. What kind of gift would make a person’s relationship with a rough stretch of life feel better? Is there any such gift?

Maybe I’m putting too much pressure on myself.

At any rate, I thought today would be my day to at least try to find something. I thought I had a window of Kendell-less shopping. We had a party today for work, which meant I went in at a different time than I usually do. And I might have just let him think that I was going back to work in the two hours after the party. And instead I would go shopping.

It would be the perfect time to find him a gift.

So I grabbed my opportunity.

And I totally failed. I didn’t find a damn thing to give him and I had no inspiration. But that’s not the worst part. Or maybe these are equally bad, but when I had about 45 minutes left before I needed to be back at work, I got a text.

From Kendell.

Asking me where I was.

Because he’d decided to come and visit me at the library. And the rest of the librarians who I work with were like, “ummm, we don’t know where Amy is, she’s not supposed to be here until 4:30” and yeah: totally busted.

And oh my gosh. I was so mad at him.

Which was probably more anger at the entire situation, at the fact that he’s had to do surgery recuperation for two Decembers in a row, and at myself for not being able to cope with a constant companion, and for my failure to find him the perfect gift.

But I was pretty pissed off.

And then I started feeling bad (but still angry and flustered), because I did just lie to my husband (even if it was for a good reason) and I really do want to find something that will remind him that life is fantastic. Or at least not entirely horrible.

So I started messaging him. I told him I was sorry for being tricky and that I hadn’t found him a gift, even though I really wanted to find something great.

And he texted me back and said “I have a new defibrillator and a new heart valve and a bitchin’ wife. What more could I want?”

So I guess I’ll have to forgive him.



As usual, you are so great at expressing your feelings. Well said, and also really funny. Anyone who has been married for a while can relate to the whole, "I really love him, but I need my space" part of your story. So, so happy he is doing well enough to irritate you. Good luck finding that gift.


I just love so much about this post! Love you both.

Chris S

You are pretty bitchin' Wish I had a fabulous gift idea for you, but alas nothing comes to mind! Hang in there. Love you!

Feisty Harriet

Oh my goodness, this is perfect. Honestly, I am in your non-nurturing boat most of the time. I'll feed you and keep the laundry done...but more than that? Uh...say what?!


Jamie Bocanegra

You are taking care of him better than you think- I'm sure! That sounds like the response of a man who knows it's been hard for you too. All this upheaval and stress. Merry Christmas friend. :)


Sometimes they say the perfect words. Merry Christmas to you and sending blessings for a healthy New Year.

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