I recently had to be on the road for work. When I am on the road we usually suspend the nightly rotation. That makes it difficult if it is say, Alina’s night when I leave, and then after being gone for three days it would be Vicki’s night, then Val’s night and finally Alina’s night, she having to wait almost a full week.
This time the rotation worked to our advantage, but it did not make leaving any easier. I left the day Val started her isolation time for her thyroid cancer. We traded nights so that I could be with Valerie the day before she went in for her treatment. It was extra emotional to leave her. She had not been herself leading up to the treatment. They had taken her off of her thyroid pill which left her emotional, tired, cold and also messed with her assimilation of calcium. As a result, she kept having muscle cramps that were painful. On our way back from New York the last time she cramped just as we were landing. She was belted in and couldn’t move and she begin to hyperventilate. I frantically tried to summon a flight attendant for help but to no avail as we were in landing mode and they were belted in themselves. Just before the plane touched down Valerie passed out.
“Valerie, are you alright?” I tried to wake her, and again pushed the call button.
An attendant came up and I said we needed a paramedic. By the time we pulled up to the gate Valerie had regained consciousness. The paramedics checked her vitals and offered to take her to the hospital if she wanted, but Val was embarrassed at the attention, seemed fine and declined.
The experience left me emotionally fragile though, as the deep fear of losing her surfaced. I felt my male protective instincts kick in and I tried to be extra attentive. Logically I knew her chances for a full recovery were very good, and as far as cancer goes she is fortunate. It certainly has given me more empathy for others with cancer. I felt helpless and fearful, but wanted to be strong and supportive. Sometimes I did not want to articulate my fears because they seemed trivial, but that experience of watching her lose consciousness kept replaying in my mind. I just wanted to hold Valerie when it was time for me to leave town. The feeling was like if I did not let her go, nothing bad would happen.
While gone I prayed constantly for her. Whenever I could we spent some time on the phone to help her pass the time. I called Alina and Vicki to make sure she had food for her diet prepared. I think they thought it was cute I was so concerned for her but they let me know they had her covered.
When I came home she was three days into her isolation. I had Alina pick me up from the airport. Normally when I come home it is a hard time for us all. The ladies have all missed me and I have missed them all. Our routine is off and I find myself torn because I want to see all of them. It is one of the hardest things for me about living this way. I am conflicted in my heart as I cannot adequately express how much I miss them all. I hug one, then another and then yet another is waiting.
If all three are there at the same time it is not like I can express it to all of them, nor them to me so we suppress that expression until we have some alone time. This homecoming was different though. Alina and I embraced at the airport. We pulled up in the driveway, right outside Val’s window. I came to the glass and she met me there. I put my hand up and she met hers to mine. We laughed at the silliness of it. It seemed like she was in prison. I put my lips to the glass and kissed her smashed lips on the other side of the pane. I wanted to touch her. She did not look sick and what is a little radiation? I tried to make myself feel better about the situation because I was used to postponing my expression of affection. Reluctantly I pulled away and walked inside, feeling tender for her.
I came in and greeted all of my children. It was touching to see Krista, Val’s two year old rocking in the chair with Vicki who was reading books to her. My heart melted with appreciation. Not once had either Alina or Vicki complained about picking up Valerie’s duties or mine for that matter while I was out of town. It is times like these that I am grateful for our love.
It was Alina’s night, then Vicki’s and finally Valerie’s night on the day she came out of isolation. It should have been just as she had not missed a night with me, because in usual circumstances she would have been that long without seeing me anyway, but that day was especially fulfilling to us. We just sat and held each other. It was as if letting her go had made her better. Sometimes that hardest part about loving someone is letting them go. But the most rewarding part is trusting that true love is eternal, and when you have it, it never lets go of you.