Over the recent 4th of July Holiday weekend both my husband and I were sick. It was strange because my illness was a raspy sore throat and then a chest cough that only occurred at night. His illness was a sore throat but also several raging fevers, aches and pains, tender skin, scratchy eyes and general weakness and malaise. Between playing with our grandchildren the week before and hitting a late night bar crowd for our son's band that same weekend we could have caught this bug anywhere, if we indeed shared the same bug.
What was so unusual was that he was really sick and I was just annoyingly so until days after he got well and then my cough got worse. Ninety-nine percent of the time he is the one mildly ill and I drag myself from bed to couch for several days complaining and putting life on hold.
I realized about a decade ago how I draw on his leadership and strength. Being the mother and Chief cook and bottle washer (bill payer, house cleaner, appointment clerk, etc.) for years, I always thought I was the headstrong and stalwart person while herding our goslings, as perhaps I was. But our years together and aging senses have caused us to lean more equally on each other through all of life's later challenges.
His appetite was good so I was not too worried. But at our ages I could not help but think about what it would be like if this illness was serious. If we were entering the time in our lives when I would be caring for him day in and out as he started on that journey where his body needed more and more rest until he left me, left all of us. I could not help thinking of that day when I might be left to walk this trail alone. It was a black and scary thought, but it did not freeze me in my tracks, because I knew it was possible and I knew others shared this journey.
I am luckier than many people because I think I can get my mind around this darkness, even though it is painful. I have lost both my parents and a younger sister and I am practical in knowing we all go this way at some time in our lives and I do resign myself to the inevitability of those things we cannot change with the force of our emotions or the demands of our 'needs.' We face one day at a time and enjoy its jewel like quality for the brief glow it provides. Life is such a temporary gift that breaks so easily. While we may wish to curl up in a fetal ball, the sun will continue to rise, flowers will bloom, songs will be written and sung, couples will make love, and children will laugh and play without us. This is a good thing. But I do admit, that at my age, death becomes much more than a theoretical mind game or philosophical thought. Being stoic is not always enough to ease the anxiousness that only visits in the middle of the night.
(I should probably clarify that I wrote this a while back...)