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Don't Leave me Behind

I don’t know if there is anything more exhausting than holding the hospital vigil. Minutes feel like hours as your feet and legs become numb from just sitting and waiting and watching. I am grateful to be here because it means that my husband’s surgery is behind him. Hopefully, he is on the road to recovery. We are playing tag team with sickness: this week is his turn; next week will be mine. I’ve been trying to use this time wisely, and I have actually started three blogs, which hopefully, I will finish one day. Truth be told, the constant interruptions make it hard to concentrate. But the wi fi here is fast, and I have spent lots of time on Pinterest. I may or may not have ordered a pair of shoes.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be weak and vulnerable, to have the wind knocked out of your sails. We all want to think of ourselves as invincible, and nothing reminds us that we are fragile masses of flesh and blood like being ill. I considered that idea to be something that makes us uniquely human, but perhaps it is not just exclusive to people.

My dog is an old lady. At 17, her hearing is gone and her vision is hazy. She has forgotten her potty training and now wears diapers. Occasionally, I see glimpses of her younger self, a wagging tail when I return from being away or obvious delight over a special treat. But for the most part, she is still, watching the comings and goings of the household from her favorite resting spot. She seems to have accepted her fate, the aches and pains of old age, and she never lets on that she is hurting. The only indication of her declining heath is the constant napping. Sleep is the universal escape from reality.

For pack animals, showing weakness is the kiss of death. The old, the infirm, the injured are left behind when the migration begins as the group moves to a better food source or a safer spot. Those who can’t keep up during the trek slow down the process to the detriment of them all. Hiding weakness becomes a matter of survival.

And so, as I sit here listening to my husband joke with the nurses, making comments about his golf game to the doctors, I see that same biological programming at work. When you have a chronic illness, you want to be seen as still viable, worth saving. The performance, the charade is as important as the medical care. You remain cheerful, manage a smile through the pain.

You don’t want to be left behind.

Sometimes, we just need proof that we still exist, that our lives still matter. We cling to the hope that difficulty is just an intermission between Act I and II of the play.

Isn’t that when they serve the champagne?


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