Where to start? What to say?
I've been intentionally silent here on cat.net. What few words I've had, have needed to go out to family and friends as updates regarding day-to-day changes in Jeff's condition and care. I keep telling everyone that what we face now is a marathon, not a sprint, and that means I'll have to change my tactics, too.
My husband is injured, gravely injured. Will he recover? We don't know. We hope so, but as I said to someone early on, this process is either going to be very quick (meaning, we will lose him) or very slow (meaning, he makes it, but the road to recovery will be a long one).
I have hesitated writing here because we've already seen our first instance of family drama, and it has left me so angry and mistrustful that I have withheld virtually all personal statements from all public places. It won't work, long-term, because my friends assume that I'll write here on cat.net, and at some point, I'm going to need the outlet. Truthfully, I needed it from day one.
So here's the massively profane deal. It's a rant. Offended? Feel free to take your offense somewhere else. You're reading this of your own free will.
I nearly lost my husband two weeks ago. While no marriage is perfect, ours was pretty damn good, and as marriage partners go, we were as close to being a binary star as any couple I've ever met. If you think this has not broken my heart and made me wonder how the hell I can go on,
Seriously. Fuck off now. Don't call, don't write -- to me, or to anyone else. I do not need you right now. If you were not in the hotel room with us when I cried myself to sleep every night for two weeks, or watched me struggle to get through a meal without tears, or whisper the words "Game face" and put on a sad but kind smile before family members or friends showed up .... do NOT assume that you know the inner workings of my heart, marriage, or future plans. You don't.
My husband and I both are intensely private people. It rips at me knowing how many people know the innermost workings of our life right now -- our salaries, our insurance situation, the details of his care. Should Jeff recover, I hope he will forgive me for disclosing so much. We have always been people who have had a small and tight inner circle of friends, though we were surrounded by lots more people who cared more about us while not knowing us as intimately. The past two weeks have forced me to turn our lives inside-out for the reassurance of others, and while not as horrific as watching my husband sleep without waking, trust me, it's up there.
If your priority is how you think I should be feeling or acting,
My first priority is Jeff's care. My second priority is self-survival. My third is the distribution of information to his immediate family (his mother, his father, his sister). Somewhere around 18th or 20th is conforming to what you think I should be doing. There's a continuum of behavior: there's the merry widow who celebrates, and the woman who throws herself on her husband's funeral pyre. I am neither. I am going to attempt to rebuild my life as best I'm able with this "new normal" I've been given, which means from time to time, I'm going to sit in a restaurant with someone I trust, attempt to be social, attempt to find ways to go on. Otherwise, part of me dies, too.
So what about information?
Will you get every scrap of information you want? No, you won't. Why? Because wants aren't needs. Even I won't get everything I want in this situation, though I will admit to having all of the information I need. We are pushing out daily updates at this point that include medical information and commentary from the people who see Jeff.
The reality of the situation is that I have to be an autocrat of information. Some things must be filtered, and I am the person who must make those decisions -- on a case-by-case, day-by-day, and person-by-person basis. I am the person who is being awakened by emergency calls from the hospital in the middle of the night, and I am the person who will be responsible for dealing with the insurance companies, his employer, my employer, and all of the other myriad personal and financial issues that will crop up as a result of Jeff's accident. I will try to find a balance between reassurance and over-disclosure, but reassuring you falls far, far short of the importance of Jeff's care. While I hope that doesn't offend you, you are not my primary concern right now.
So what does work?
Kindness without obligation. You're welcome to call the house, but I'm not always picking up the phone these days. If it's truly important, you know to leave a voicemail, text message, or an email. I'm responding when I'm able, and sometimes that means a communication delay while I cry, deal with an insurance issue, try to get some work done, or try to do house chores. I do better if I'm allowed some time to compose what I'm going to say.
Understanding of emotional swings. Some days, I'm all fight. I'm Jeff's pugilist, taking on whatever needs to be taken on with ferocity and a smile. Some days I'm terrified. I face the very real prospect of losing my life partner, or seeing him crippled in unknown horrific ways. The same woman who pushes nurses to give her white blood cell counts and respiration rates sobs inside when she finds yet another unimaginable thing that must be unearthed or dealt with -- and sometimes these events happen only a few minutes apart.
If these are you, then don't you dare fuck off. I'm not going to be an easy person to love or care about for a while. I'll be alternately needy, prickly, and completely normal -- sometimes in the same conversation. I am aware of how hard it is to be friends with someone who won't ask for help when it's needed -- duh, I've been married to Jeff for 12.5 years -- but right now I barely have the emotional strength to get through a conversation, much less a day. This is not me at my best. This is me trying to make do in a horrendous, unthinkable situation, when sometimes the only thought that gets me up in the morning is
Jeff would do this for me. I hope I am strong enough to do this for him.