Because you didn't know differently ...

by pinuchkin

Oh my poor sweet love. Even 23 years doesn't give us the keys to each other's heads, does it?

As we drove the hours to the surgical hospital, in the dark, early morning, we were chatting about old friends and how time had passed. And you joked about the woes of our 40-something male friends.

And you said, "basically, nature's done with us now so it's no surprise we're all falling apart".

And you didn't notice that there, in the dark, tears started rolling down my face. And you didn't understand that you'd just put a knife into an unacknowledged, painful core.

You didn't know that - despite having had four pregnancies and three kids, despite looking forward to an end to anemia, despite being desperate for an end to constant pelvic pain - I was also deeply and quietly mourning the end of a stage of life. The stage where I could feel little feet pressing ribs, the stage where later-adulthood illnesses happened to other people, and the stage where tiny people needed me.

I know we're in a new frontier, where all of our kids can talk to us, where there are no diapers or pacifiers to be found. I know that there are good parts to this, where we can sit together at night and watch a movie and not have to listen for little people's needs.

But there, in the dark, while you were joking about the change in your body's role and the move into the second stage of adulthood, I was fearfully and quietly mourning exactly that.

And it hurt, to have you seem so blithe, so clueless. And when I screwed up the gumption to say, "Um, babe, I'm going to ask you to tread carefully there, and remember where we're going and what's happening when we get there, okay?" but you responded, "What does that mean?" ... Yeah, that hurt too.

Maybe that's on me, maybe it means that I didn't lean in enough with you and let you know where my head and my heart were on this. Maybe I hadn't admitted enough of it to myself, much less you.

But then you were there for hours, by my side, waiting, humoring, protecting, sitting, sitting sitting sitting. And then for weeks after, cooking, fetching, cleaning, caring, parenting, chiding, reminding, protecting. And I *see* that, the price of being a caretaker. And I remember it, from my too-many visits to the cardiac ICU family waiting rooms. And so I forgive you those 20 minutes of in-the-dark tears that you couldn't understand.