In Sickness and In Health. Except If I’m Sailing.

It starts Sunday mid-morning with a mild queasy stomach ache thingy. By 2 p.m., I have to lie down; my 9 p.m. I’m alternately hanging my head and then my butt over the toilet all night long.

By dawn I’m exhausted and the stomach bug is as unrelenting as it was 8 hours earlier — fever, chills, body aches, head ache, fever, cramps, gas, vomit, diarrhea. The day looms large ahead of me: A scheduled Oakland City workers’ strike means my big girls won’t have camp that day. Which means I’ll have all three home, all day, while I puke and poop my guts out. I cry some more.

At 5:56 a.m. I look over at Josh who’s also awake and also probably didn’t get much sleep. Then I remember that it’s his first day of a sailing course he’s signed up for. He took his first sailing course two years ago when I was 39 weeks pregnant with Lilah. Turns out the timing of this next round is just as sucky.

“I know it’s your first day of sailing class, but I can’t stay here on my own. I’m really, really sick,” I moan.

Silence. Maybe he didn’t quite hear me? Or maybe he’s still waking up? Then I realize I’m not going to hear what I need to hear, which is:

“Oh, honey. I’m so sorry. I know you had a rough night. Of course I’ll stay home if we can’t find a sitter for this morning.” Sympathetic eyes, hand squeeze. “Can I get you anything? Do you want me to call the doctor?”

Instead he says:

“I’m sorry you don’t feel well, but I can’t miss my first class otherwise I won’t complete the course this week and there’s no other time for me to do it and I don’t even know if they give refunds.” I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. No, really.

I’m so mad and so hurt I don’t know what to say. Plus I’m crazy dizzy and dehydrated and crampy. The next hour or so is a blur. Josh manages to get our neighbor over in the morning to play with Lilah until the nanny comes and a friend to take Ella and Ruby to a water park for the day. The kids are covered.

But that’s not the point. I have the whole rest of the day as I fade in and out of feverish consciousness to mull over the point. And the point is, he should have offered to stay home. That night, with me doped up on Imodium and NyQuil, we have a big blowout. We get to the crux of the thing when I say:

“I just wanted you to say you’d stay home and take care of me!”

And he says:

“Well, I didn’t realize how sick you were and I didn’t want to give up the sailing.”

We calm down. He sits on the edge of the bed; I sit on the toilet. I’m still startled that after almost 13 years of marriage we can end up in our own little Corners of Despair. Him worried about taking time for himself; me anxious that I’m totally on my own when he does. Big sigh.

Here’s the upshot: I wanted him to take the opportunity to be the kind, sweet man I know he can be and offer to take care of me. Then I’d have had the opportunity be grateful and let him know that of course I want him to go sailing; I just need to know that when I need him, I’m the priority.

Five days later I’m still sick, Josh has apologized a couple of times and I’m coming around.

Marriage. Does it ever become a no-brainer?

Note: After reading this post, a friend of mine said, “It’s so easy to forget how separate we remain from the people we most love, trust, and treasure.” So true. 

3 thoughts on “In Sickness and In Health. Except If I’m Sailing.

  1. First of all (all credit to Groucho) I resemble that remark. But second, which brain are you talking about – the dominant desire monkey brain, the scared and reactive bird/lizard brain, or the higher self brain? we have to learn to access the buddha/tzadique brain and keep it in front of our mind’s eye, otherwise it’s all lizard/bird/monkey. but moving on, it’s always a dynamic equilibrium and it sucks that it’s real pain (so what if it’s emotional, it’s still real). but i figure that it’s something that you can learn from (we and others have from similar places, sometimes even the first time) and then model for the kids. and good luck with tummy!


    1. We love, cherish and sometime tolerate our partners because of …, in spite of …, instead of … Take your pick.
      Beautifully written niece-piece, I look forward to more. Uncle L.


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