Well, I wasn’t expecting this. I’ve been cared for and looked after by Tom for over five years as I ebb and flow from this medical peak or that depressive valley. I’m still fresh off my last stumble and fall from a surgery that turned into two surgeries and then sepsis. And yet, here we are. Tom’s spinal stenosis is out of control and just like that, everything is free falling.
It is hard to watch someone you love suffer. It is also hard to be brave and strong when you don’t feel particularly brave or strong.
We have done a very comforting dance these past few years. I get sick. He takes a step toward me and takes care of me. I am inviting and let him, I rely on him to manage my care. He does an excellent job. I am constantly reassured by his love and tenderness toward me. It is a feedback loop that has sustained my heart and courage to keep taking steps toward him even when it feels too vulnerable to move another inch.
That isn’t our routine right now. It can’t be. It won’t be for quite some time, if ever again. I understand learning new steps can be thrilling and joyful. I am sure that new routine will be fantastic for someone else. But for me? That old dance? It was comforting. It made me feel like I understood my place in the world. He and I had carved out this tiny corner for ourselves. I wasn’t ready to leave the dance floor just yet.
In square dancing – which they made us learn in elementary school and which is awesome and silly and ridiculous and folksy as hell – they taught us to “allemande left.” For 3rd graders, that basically meant everyone jumbled up for a moment, the square moved around a bit, and you eventually ended up back with your partner after having shuffled through the chaos of the past few beats.
Tom and I are awkwardly, uncomfortably allemanding left at the moment. Life is kind of chewing us up. Not to spit us out, no. But to soften those remaining hard edges and to eventually bring us back to one another in the end.
Give ‘Em Hell and to Hell with Disease.