Delicate Creatures

Over the past few years, I have watched helplessly while several dear friends lost their husbands — entering a season of my life that is not easy to accept. We try to offer help, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, even a safe vessel for anger — yet nothing seems terribly helpful.  My husband Tim, a tall powerfully built man, does have some medical conditions — and I have laughingly called him a “delicate creature” over the years. He is more sensitive to heat and pain than I am — although he very strong, and most people assume he is quite healthy.  But last week my dear sweet husband of almost 30 years was, in the space of a few hours, thrust into a life threatening medical condition. And it is for the the grace of the universe, swift and sure medical attention, his will and the heartfelt prayers of those who love him – that he is alive today.

It is often said that life can change on a dime, we know this truth in our bones, yet it is still jarring to fully comprehend “this is happening to us now”. The day this happened (and I won’t go into medical details here for his privacy) we had been having a regular day, filled with errands like a trip to the home store to purchase bags of soil and the materials for a second raised bed in our backyard,  lunch out at our favorite local Mexican restaurant, carefully navigating the menu to be as vegan as possible (yes, still doing that!). The weather was warm, and our contractor was starting a new project in our entryway – removing old dated tile and fake rock and replacing it with more modern surfaces.

After dinner the symptoms began, and with some fumbling around and a 911 call later I was filling out paper work in the local hospital.

Déjà vu. I had found my mother after a fall in 2009 that broke her hip, I had also found her the morning she died. This time I was calm, but my mouth was dry.

The drive home after he was admitted to the hospital, in the darkness of early morning was tense – nighttime roadwork on the local highway complicated things. In the days to follow I would come to know the hospital – which we had never visited before in our three years here. My trips home in the evening were at dusk, and I was careful to avoid the deer families crossing the roads near our home. To cause injury to one more delicate creature might send me over the edge. Life held the heightened feeling of extreme preciousness — Tim’s life, my life, and all the living things around me.

Luckily, Tim was in the right place, surrounded by the right people to help him. It was scary, but I had no residual guilt about “not doing the right thing”. We can do all the right things, diet, exercise, rest – and still “shit happens”. What we learned was that type II diabetes, even when well managed, can mask symptoms. As we go forward we will be more proactive and suspicious about any and all things. More tests, more questions, more water, more rest, more exercise – and yet we need to calm down and live too. Life cannot be lived on full alert.

Just a few weeks before we had danced and laughed at a nephews’ wedding. More of that please…