My husband almost died yesterday.
At first it was just a bach-ache. I was slightly annoyed when my peaceful early-morning cup of herbal tea was interrupted by the phone ringing. My husband asked me to bring some painkillers to his work.
And so I went. But I didn't rush. My husband takes painkillers for every ache and pain. I was sure this was nothing to be concerned about.
When I got to his work, I found him, in the back office. In the dark. Bent over in pain.
He took the painkillers, but the pain was getting worse by the minute. Now it had spread up his back, and into his chest. I decided to take him to hospital.
In the car, his pain was escalating. In hindsight, I should have called an ambulance, but we were already on the road by now. He was groaning and clutching at his chest.
At one point, overcome with pain, he grabbed my arm. When I turned to look at him, he looked me in the eye, and said "I might die...". When I close my eyes, I can still see the look on his face. He didn't need to say anything else. I already knew all the things he meant to say.
At the emergency department, he was seen straightaway.
His blood pressure was 215/78.
The ECG was normal. Chest x-ray was clear. After his pain was under control, they set about trying to find out what was wrong. A CT scan revealed a tear in the wall of the aorta - the main artery from the heart.
This was, indeed, something to be concerned about.
He was transferred by ambulance to the "trauma" hospital. They worked to get his blood pressure under control, before the pressure caused the tear to become unrepairable.
When I left him last night, he was groggy from morphine. The cardiac specialist had been to see him, but he couldn't really remember much of what was said, except that they would not operate just now.
My head was thumping. The day had been altogether too long. I was tired and irritable, and I came home to bed. All day, I had done the right things. Said the right things at the right time. Rubbed his back when he asked. But inside, I felt nothing. I was in robot mode. Cold and precise and practical.
But now I'm awake at 4am in the morning, and I'm anything but cold and precise and practical.
I'm filled with realisations and regrets.
I knew he was unwell. For a couple of years now, he's been unwell. Deep down, I knew it. But every time he fell asleep at inappropriate times, I was cranky with him. Every time he was too tired and lethargic to do anything but lay in front of the TV, half awake, half dozing, I was annoyed.
I wished he was more active and involved in our family. I wished he'd play with his sons more. I wished he'd help me out more. I wished he'd just get up and do something.
He tried to quit smoking so many times that I've lost count. Probably 25 times or more. Each time he quit okay. He just couldn't stay quit. After a while, I didn't even get my hopes up anymore.
I started to think of him as lazy and weak. Probably I lost some of my respect for him.
In my quieter moments, I dared to question if I even wanted him to be a role model to our sons.
I put a lot of effort into keeping myself and my sons healthy. But not so much my husband. On the whole, he was left to his own devices. I assumed he knew what was healthy and what was not, and could make his own decisions.
Maybe, deep down, I thought he was a "lost cause"?
I see now, that I have withdrawn emotionally from my marriage, quite a while ago. I stopped making an effort. It was easier just to depend apon myself, and not be too hopeful about other people.
When did it happen?
Was it when our first son was born, and the overwhelming depths of love and concern I felt, just pushed everything else into the background? Or when he sent our sons upstairs rather than turn off the M-rated movie he was watching? Or when I found my "life-calling" and threw myself into it with dedication and purpose, and possibly at the expense of my family?
Was it when he made me in charge of our finances, giving me a never-ending source of stress, and resentment when he didn't seem to share my financial worries?
(Or maybe he did worry, but just didn't say? Maybe that's why he ended up with a blood pressure of 215/78....???)
Could he feel the coldness emanating from me? The disappointment? When was the last time I was so overcome with feeling, that I just had to fling my arms around his neck and say "I love you"? Or sent him a text message for no reason except that I missed him?
When was the last time we just talked? Not planning, or organising, or discussing, or complaining, or arguing. Just talked.
I can't remember.
My head was full of trying to balance our budget, remember all the jobs I had to do tomorrow, work out what groceries to buy for the week and what will I cook for dinner, and....how would we pay that bill next week?
My marriage just didn't really figure in all of my figuring out.
I regret that.
I do not want to live unhappily ever after.
I want my husband here. Present. With us. Healthy, and happy and involved in the family.
I want to be thankful for what he is - kind and humble and faithful - instead of resentful for what he isn't.
I want to work together....not pull apart.
I want to take ownership for my contribution to where we find ourselves today - be the change I want to see in my marriage.
My sons are beside me, sleeping, their precious little faces lit with the glow from my computer screen. I want them to see a happy, loving marriage between their parents. I want their daddy to see them grow into men.
I want to talk. Openly and honestly. To say "Sorry" and "I love you".
Dear God.....let me have the chance.
On our wedding day. 13th September 2008.