Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dear Husband, (Epistolary Wednesday)

Dear Husband,

We made a deal, you and me, seventeen-and-a-half years ago that we were in it for better and for worse, and oh, there’s been a lot of worse-that-we-hoped-would-get-better. And after seventeen years and three children and two houses and four neighborhoods and too many deaths and too-many-arguments-to-count and a million peaceful moments that we wish we could sink into for the rest of our lives, we learn that sometimes worse doesn’t get better and sometimes it does just enough.

However, I don’t remember signing up specifically for this Surgery Thing you had to have last week.  A perforated eardrum, you told me they told you. Which maybe explains the partial hearing loss (-what?!) and the constant ringing in your ears (-really? Constantly?). You can fall apart and have, like I have over the years, in a million ways, but this physical falling apart sends me to some far distant place from our bodies in the recovery room—me helping you dress--and then while I push your wheelchair through the hospital skywalk while your ear’s packed tight with cotton stuffing and your jaw aches like you’ve been to the dentist for drilling. It’s some place in the future that I go, wondering if this is what it’s gonna be like—one or both of us hardly able to pull our socks on--not because of narcotics but because of age.

And old age reminds me of our mortality, of how close we are, of how this stage we’re set upon could collapse so suddenly. It’s also why I can’t look at the wounds of friends or strangers without wincing and my stomach turning, because wounds speak of such vulnerability and loss--and I’m not ready to lose. This whole list of post-op prohibitions doesn’t help, either—no lifting more than ten pounds, no sneezing or straining or getting excited about anything. All of it, along with the cotton in your ear and the scab where they stole some skin to patch up your eardrum is making me nervous in a rickety-rackety sort of way. I want to shoo that ringing-in-the-ears away and have you wake up the next morning all brand new, but they tell me this is not the way of surgery. With surgery, they rip us into pieces and rearrange. And then we heal. And healing takes time and rest. And sometimes drugs. But drugs and pain make us foggy and disconnected and generally Not Right in the world while our cells are regenerating and our nerves recalibrating. Come to think of it, maybe this is just the way of all recovery, how all of the Worse turns Better--painful, discombobulating, slow, but healing nonetheless.

***Heather Weber is the author of Dear Boy,: An Epistolary Memoir

"Dear Boy, is a brilliant and unusual memoir of distance and absence--the absence of a beloved brother from his sister's life and the absence of healthy mothering that, over the years, drove brother and sister apart. Weber deftly shifts point of view so that, piece by piece, readers gather the sum of confusion and loss. Yet there is so much love and forgiveness in the narrator that, in a way, each character is redeemed. I'm moved by this life, this telling of it." --Fleda Brown, author of Driving with Dvorak.

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