("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.
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.
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.