Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When Thank You Is Not Enough

This blog is going to be a bit different than my usual.
Tonight I am going to brag.  Not on myself, but on my husband.
Some people get recognized for their outstanding performances despite horrible odds, but so many go on quietly about their business, as if their behavior is in no way extraordinary.
And my husband is one of those guys.  He is so far and above a gem, that there is no way in this little blog post I could tell you all the ways he never ceases to amaze me.  But I'm going to try, at least just a little to tell you about the amazing man that God has given me.  This is a real post, not sugar coated.  And if it makes you uncomfortable, I am sorry.  But I can't truly thank him if I am sugar coating our reality right now.  The truth is what we have to deal with.

My husband has never had a healthy wife.  In over four years of marriage we have not ever gone more than a few weeks without me having a significant crisis of health.  He has regularly had to deal with me pass out, going completely limp, sometimes even in the middle of a conversation.  Never able to predict when it's going to happen.  Scares the crap out of him.  Multiple times he has seen me ill to the point where he held me and begged God to just let me die rather than continue to be in that much pain.  For weeks on end, many times over he has taken care of me in bed because I couldn't get up without him to hold me up.

 He has carried me up the stairs because I couldn't walk more times than I can count, and been woken up during the night to carry me back down to the bathroom and then back up again.  This is not something that has happened once or twice, but literally if you added up the days they would amount to months of him being my legs.  Without him once complaining.  In fact the opposite.  He will practically threaten me that I HAVE to wake him up if I need to go downstairs.  And that I am under no circumstances to try to make it myself just to let him sleep.

He rubs my feet when I am in severe pain for literally hours, not just sometimes, but probably more days than not.  He cooks, cleans, takes out the garbage, wakes up with our son during the night and cares for him, depending on my health often more than I do.  He goes to work, comes home and takes care of me and my son on my bad days, which are quite often.

Do I have good days?  Yes, but if I am going to give credit where credit is due to my husband, I have to be honest about my health as well.  And the truth is, I have far more bad days than good ones.  And almost every day, even if it is a good day, that ends at about 5 pm, and suddenly my body rebels, and I typically spend the evening in severe pain, usually laying on the couch trying desperately not to vomit.

He does laundry, NEVER complains when I haven't done something.  He lifts me in and out of the hot tub on nights when I am hurting but can't get myself in our out, just because he knows the heat helps my pain a little.  He heats up water bottles, makes me tea, and has emptied more buckets of vomit than most people would see in an entire lifetime.

On my bad days it is not unusual for him to work all day, come home make dinner, put Hudsen to bed, then force me to accept a back rub just because he can see I am hurting no matter how hard I try to hide it from him.

He is a better listener than most women.  Hearing what I have to say, sifting past the emotions, asking questions, and giving hugs when appropriate.

I ask God so often what I ever did to deserve someone like him.  This was most certainly NOT my plan for my life.  My plan was a clean house, where I cooked every meal, baking in between, boxing up his lunches every day for work.  I always imagined a house where I was the one giving back rubs after a long day, and he was the one who got to enjoy them each night.

I don't know why he loves me.  I really don't.  I feel beyond worthless for even low expectations of what a mother and wife should be most days.   But not a day goes by that he doesn't tell me not once, but several times how much he loves me, and how glad he is that he married me.

I have a store.  Really because of my health I should probably close it.  But he knows being down there when I can makes me feel connected to the world, and helps ward off the depression that tries to take over my life like whirlwind.  So he doesn't complain.  Doesn't resent me "wasting" my energy down there instead of doing the things I'm "supposed" to be doing at home.  But instead he encourages it, and helps me maintain it.

He lets me cry.  I try to be strong, but feeling various shades of horrendous all the time wears on a body....  and he understands that.  He doesn't say "you think you have it bad!  You should try being me!  At least you get to lay around half the day!"  He never makes me feel guilty.  If anything he tries to make me feel guilty for doing TOO MUCH.  He is always the one saying "no honey, I can do that you sit down!"  or "don't try to to do too much today babe."  I keep waiting for it to change, but it seems he cares more as the years go by not less.  I keep waiting for the "newness" of me being sick to wear off, and his "true colors" to come out.  But it is very obvious these are his true colors, and they are beautiful.

Is he tired?  Yep.  Is he discouraged.  Yes.  But he never takes that out on me.

Why am I writing all this?  Because he deserves it.  He has to listen on a daily basis to other people whining about their lives, and he doesn't punch them in the face (which I would feel like doing if I was in his shoes and had to listen to other people's seemingly small problems.)  He gets to deal with people all the time who have no idea how stretched thin he is and how hard he works, make comments about my illness like I've had a bit of a cold for a while, and he doesn't yell at them or tell them to get a clue.  People ask him all the time to come help someone "in need" or that is "having a rough time" and he doesn't scream at them "REALLY!  Do you NOT KNOW US AT ALL?  We are barely keeping our heads above water people, why are you asking us to help?"  He doesn't yell at them for being insensitive, he just gently tells them he is not in a place to help right now to help, or even more amazing, often times he DOES go and help.  He just quietly goes about his life, doing what has to be done.
And the fact is people DON'T understand.  They have their lives they are wrapped up in, and they assume that he is "fine."  They assume if he needed help he would ask.  Or if things were "that bad" they would someone magically "know."

Every night when we crawl into bed he hugs me and says "babe, we did it.  We made it through one more day."  And believe me that is all we are doing.  We put on the brave face and say we are "fine" because the truth is people tire very quickly of hearing every day that your wife is worse than the day before and you are both barely hanging on to sanity by a thin thread.  So you smile and say "doing ok, and you?" so as not to make them uncomfortable YET AGAIN, with your life.  But that doesn't make it true.  Or real.  What is true, and real, is that every day we cry and beg God just to let us make it through.  We aren't asking for anything big.  Just simple survival.

I've never known anyone like my husband.  And I know people see his "rough" outside and make assumptions about him.  His bluntness.  His opinions that are often free flowing.  His to the point nature that can be perceived as abrupt or rude.  His passion that may seem like anger.   But what they don't see is all the stuff behind the scenes.  All the heart and soul and love and gentleness and patience.  I don't know how he doesn't just burst with anger and resentment some days.  He certainly did not imagine his life being like this.  He did not ask for this.  This was not in any way how we planned to spend our days, clinging to survival as if it was the last thread of the rope we are dangling over a cliff on.   Many of the men I know feel put upon if they have to change even half of the diapers, or cook their own dinners.  Not my guy.  Or if he does, he loves me far too much to ever tell me.

Dr. Laura has a phrase that every woman should find a man that will "swim through shark infested waters to bring her a lemonade," and I have no doubt found him.

He has no idea I'm writing this, and will probably kill me when he sees it, cause he doesn't want recognition.  But I can't do much for him.  So I want to do this.  I want to say thank you and put it out there for everyone to see.
 I want to say: I love you honey so much more than you could ever imagine, and never take for granted all the things you do, that you probably think I don't even notice.  But I do notice.  Sometimes I don't say thank you when I should because it makes me so incredibly sad to see you having to do for me all the things that I wish I could do for you each day.  All the things you deserve.  And I hate that I am trapped in a body that won't allow me to show you in all the ways I should how amazing you are.  But I love you and couldn't be happier or prouder to be able to be your wife.  You are so wonderful, I can't ever imagine how I could repay you for you taking care of me the way you do.
I love you babe.