My Tuesday was fluorescent lights and pink walls and garish 90's geometrical decor. It was heaving and ho-ing and straining and crying and exhaustion, flavored with a little bit of righteous indignation. The second day of my work week was spent working with my weak husband to bundle him and his bowl and his tissues and wallet and Gatorade into the car, navigating our way to the ER, to a wheel chair, to each waiting room, to an uncomfortable hospital cot and finally a fifth-floor room as gloomy as our feelings.
I came home alone to a dog too-long cooped up, a pile of bedding that safely escaped Mr. E and an uncomfortable space next to me in bed. Ripley jumped into bed to sit at my feet, eyes wide open, ears alert and tail wagging, waiting for dad to come through the door just like he always does to tuck us in.
Wednesday morning he felt well enough to text- hale and hungry. No bouts through the night and his elderly room-mate made more fuss than he did. Hours spent waiting yesterday bled into hours spent waiting today, our silence both comforting and uncomfortable. He's lost his voice, the blood vessels around his eyes have burst and I don't know what to say that hasn't been said already. I have no new stories. Nothing I did seemed to help. So we sat in each other's company, communicating with facial movements and gestures and soft soft kisses on his knees and fingers- the only parts I can touch. He's cold and I can't quite understand how my husband -who spends his days in tank tops or bare-chested if he can get away with it- can lack body heat.
Half the day passes before the doctor returns, only to berate Mr. E on the dangers of marijuana and the threat of cyclical vomiting. I almost laugh out loud trying to imagine Mr. E with a joint and when the doctor leaves I make light by insinuating that it must be the mohawk. He drinks his clear liquids, we wheedle a prescription out of the nurse and pass the time with Supernatural re-runs but our backs ache for home and our couch.
Once we've sprung the joint I plant him carefully on the couch, surrounding him with comfort. At this, at least, I can play nurse- better with recovery than emergency, I think. He smiles and snuggles but everything about him is so faint and feeble that I'm afraid to touch this man when before half of our relationship was based on physical contact. We make do and I let him do everything he wants: watch his shows, play his games, call his brother. I can deny him nothing because I'm too scared to see him unhappy again.
Finally we sleep, me first, as always, and he comes creeping in to his side of the bed, slides under the covers and reaches out to rest his hand on my hip. This man who has issues sleeping through the night with a tossing-turning bedmate, acknowledges all I've done by reaching for me at his most vulnerable and I know that he'll be okay. We'll get through this and get past this and re-learn this one touch at a time.