Neither one of us had asked for this nightmare. He was chronically sick, chronically scared, in such horrible pain, over-medicated, and our lives transformed into daily endurance tests. Chad was trying to cope with more misery than I could fathom, and I was trying to cope with him. That insight gave me needed perspective, and helped me (at times) to function. Above all I did love him and knew for a fact that he would care for me if our situations were reversed.
I recall remarking to a friend at the hospital that I hadn’t signed up for this. He took on a wry expression and responded sagely, “yes, yes, you did.” He was right, of course, I had indeed.
Trying to mimic normal to the best of his ability, Chad rallied one afternoon, and announced he was going to use a birthday gift card to buy a new golf club. There is a beautiful, forested golf course near us, and his card was redeemable at the pro-shop. Though I shouldn’t have let him drive, it was a short dash and we both desperately needed a respite of ordinary. This errand meant that I had, perhaps about an hour off nursing duty, so I began to watch a saccharine-sweet movie on my laptop. It hadn’t escaped my attention that romance novels and fluffy sweet films were becoming my obsession. My only escape from this impossible situation. If Chad was asleep, or in this unusual case out, I plugged in some trite nonsense and buried myself in garbage.
I was so lost in a trivial DVD that I didn’t notice the time. Becoming aware of the extended quiet it occurred to me he should have returned home. A little more time passed and I finally heard the car tires on the gravel. I hit the pause on the film, embarrassed to be caught watching such nonsense, and hurried to meet him at the door.
He slowly rose out of the car and his posture and carriage looked oddly off. His gait was peculiar as he ambled to the house, bow-legged, his chin in his chest. Hobbling straight for his bed, he mumbled he didn’t feel well and I let that pass. He fell into bed and instantly dropped off to sleep while I stood by and watched him. So very strange.
Quietly returning to my insignificant movie I could hear his light snores, and I tried to underplay how weird he looked when he walked in the house. Abruptly I heard my name . . . Gail, Gail, Gail, and I darted to his bedside.
He was twisting back and forth shouting there was something wrong inside.