I don’t know if when we took our vows I understood much about ‘in health and in sickness’ or what would be ‘for better’ or what could be ‘worse’ for the wear as if I’d need to promise I wouldn’t run away at the first sign of trouble or stick around for the last of it, I just knew it was gonna always be you and me, together, the way sometimes you feel like a lone tiger, fiercely able to fend for yourself and willing to roam, and the way sometimes I feel like a hermit, chasing trespassers and their offspring, those baby strollers and toddlers tethered with domesticated canines; miniature chihuahuas, elongated dachshunds, stubby corgis, and a lunk-headed pit-bull away from my tomato plants and petunias. . . How we both slip the old Ukrainian a little cash when he asks for our empties to add up nickel after nickel, his broken english growling, Putin is bad, rolling his R’s, he points to his chest and simply says, Andre
and Sorry. . .
and he wants to kiss our hands regardless of Corona Virus and he repeats over and over, God Bless You.
And it isn’t that spring passed us by, it arrived late, barely enough time to sow last seasons sunflower seeds, and more aphids than roses bloomed early, and then our lawnmower broke.
I do know when we sat in the emergency room, waiting for the weak-kneed technician who sounded like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz to take your blood pressure, he asked, did we want to hear a joke and he said it’s okay to say no, when we hesitated,
You said, ok sure, the way you get put on the spot and act polite but unconvinced, and so we listened to him practice the same bad joke, a technique employed to bring people joy, he explained, on the next patient and the next and the next, from behind thin closed doors and partitioned walls, we listened to him only making things worse,
so when your eyes met my eyes, without words, we agreed.
I do know when the Specialist finally came in on her day off. . .
after five hours and five different Registered Nurses wrangled with your body as if you weren’t even there, fondling and groping and poking you in places not even I had explored in all our years, I felt crushed as they crushed you, stretching you to the limit, I watched each one fail at the same procedure, and how they let you keep your socks on so you wouldn’t get cold feet, a hospital crucifix hung above your head, Jesus staring his own pain outwardly, as if to say he had enough problems of his own and wasn’t going to carry your water,
. . .she whisked in, smacked her enormous blue leather purse among hygienically packaged medical supplies, and asked me directly if I was going to be okay, as in, was I the type who faints, was I going to be in the way. . . squeezed between the small sink and the gurney and her purse, and your feet, I thought, if there’s room for a purse that big, there’s room enough for me in this/her walk-in closet, make-shift as it is and I replied about the time I volunteered for Red Cross carrying warm blood packs with my own two hands to the cool ice chests after student bodies Gave, yes I’ll be ok, and Jeremy, her clumsy but kind assistant, validated how I’d been here with you the whole time. . .
And I’m not leaving, no one could ever make me leave. And then I told you to breathe. And you did. So did they. The specialist doctor and the registered nurse. All at once. You all exhaled like one great big breath. And the air in the middle of the room opened up so much, it actually changed the light.