Normally, the “until death do us part” is the part of our marriage vows that rings in my head these days.
But today was a strange day. I mostly took the day off work to take A to doctor appointments. And mostly it was an awesome day. There’s just something about getting a lot of one-on-one time with one of our kids. They are all seriously amazing, awesome humans. At their current ages, and considering I work full time, when we are all together there is a lot of vying for my attention, and they can get nasty with each other, or with me, and exhausting, and just generally challenging the way young humans are. But A is 7 now, and goodness, she’s just a good and interesting human, and we mostly had a great time together (except when I basically had to hold her down for a flu shot, but…)
A few things stand out. I had an interview with one doc. Going through my file he asked, “so what happened with her dad ?”… the usual shock: “Wow…. nothing short of tragic…how are YOU doing?… are you seeing someone? Do you have friends?” You may think some of these sound blunt, but I typically appreciate the blunt comments to the over-cautious, or completely- ignoring-it ones. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit my eyes filled with tears a few times during that discussion.
At the next appointment, I got some paperwork I had to update highlighted fields and glance over the rest, all vital PII… down to Marital status: Single. Choke. I get it. I do. And yet… Widowed should always be an option. Single just does.not.cover my status. That appointment brought us to the 6th level of a building with glass walls and elevators and A kept talking about how if Daddy were here she would not let him near the edge, would tell him not to look down. Daddy is afraid of heights, yes. In the present tense. This discussion with the nurse, who didn’t know. The anticipation/discomfort I felt for whether she would find out in this conversation (she did not.) The doctor who did know. the discomfort I felt for her/me/A. The present tense. I love that she speaks of him that way. And yet…
At the end of the day, I had to take the dog to doggie ER. Hopefully, fortunately, he’s going to be ok. On the way home with him and 3 prescriptions, I felt myself falling apart at the seams. The engineer in me tackles. Assesses the situation. Takes action. The human in me is secretly always afraid if I take someone I love to the ER, he or she will never come home. It’s a weird sort of PTSD. And with a 13 year old dog… is he already living on borrowed time? I don’t know. There is the part of me that remembers how much Tim feared dealing with his death – the dog’s death. The moment for the kids of course, but secretly, I think the thing he feared most was dealing with it himself. Watching the movie “Marley and me” broke him.
And here is the thing I thought about driving home tonight: Tim, my love, for better or for worse, everything in my life is because of you. What a strange thing for a feminist to think, to know to be true. My whole life is inextricably linked to you. This dog that we got together. This particular dog that you convinced me to adopt, when I was initially turned off by his jumping up on me at the Homeward Trails meet and greet event in Georgetown. This dog who was our first baby, our first shared love, who stole my heart before our children did. This dog, these other three humans who made my heart grow and expand and who have all basically defined my life, whether I thought I wanted that or not – for better or for worse. Everything I do and everything I am is now defined by them. For better or for worse. Whether or not it was what I ever thought I wanted. And I would have it no other way. I told him that a million times in the 26 days. And yet. I have to make all the decisions alone now, without him here. All the decisions for all of them, without the one other person who loved them just as much, who’s life was defined by them as much as mine is.
When I came home, E told me that the kids were asleep. That the girls had asked if BJ was coming home tonight, or if he would stay forever. And for the zillionth time I was reminded: I’m not the only one with that special brand of PTSD. I woke them both to tell them I was home. To tell them BJ was home, and he got medicine and should be OK. But I remind myself he may be on borrowed time. And I will need to deliver another message some day. And the way in which I deliver that message is entirely up to me.
Anyone who has worked with me is likely to tell you that I love to be in charge. I tend to think I make decisions better than most people. But there are days when the magnitude of my personal responsibility is crushing. And all I can do is hope that I continue to make the best decisions possible.
For better or for worse.