We never spent much time apart. Neither of us traveled for our jobs or anything like that. I could easily count the nights we weren't together. It was when one of us was in the hospital. Either I was having a baby or something was going on with his heart. In 1992 he was in Saint Joseph's having his aortic valve replaced with a mechanical valve. I never moved my car from the parking garage for eight days. Across the street was a nurse's dorm and they let me sleep and shower there. Bill's mother and sister, Patti, stayed with me. I think I lived on M&M's for that week. I stayed strong for Bill, they took care of me as much as I would allow.
I did everything wrong during that time. Frozen in fear, I shut people out. I wouldn't even discuss Bill's illness with the kids. Months later I read a book my Aunt Jean gave me entitled, 'Heartmates'. If was full of suggestions and helpful information for getting through heart surgery. After reading it I realized how wrong I'd been when I told the kids, "Don't cry to me. You have sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends, cry to them. If I start crying, I 'll never stop."
I'm not like that now. We all cry, nearly daily. I have no reason to suck it up anymore, nothing or no one to be strong for. I no longer care what I look like. So what if my eyes are red and puffy. My tears, fears or worries are no longer causing him pain or emotional distress of any kind.
Oh my God, he was so protective. A single tear from me and he was ready to rip someone's head off, lol. I tired to explain that sometimes women cry just because, it's no one fault, but he didn't buy it. He always wanted to know who did what and he always wanted to fix it. I usually tried to hide my emotions if I knew they would upset him.
Back in the day we used to be apart for several nights each November. Bill liked to hunt and each year he would go down to the southern tier with his buddies. Someone had a hunting camp of sorts and they would all pack up, take horrific amounts of food and be gone the week before Thanksgiving. I can't tell you how many years he strolled in just as I was putting dinner on the table. It used to really piss me off.
Bill had a dog for a while that hated me. He was a pure white German Shepard and I had to feed him by pushing his food close to him with a stick. That dog was pure meanness and viscous with anyone but Bill. One year when he went hunting the dog got loose and we couldn't get out of the house. I was so mad! Finally one morning Bill found the dog dead. I think someone poisoned him. I swear it wasn't me, but I'd thought about it enough times. I figure it was a neighbor who got sick of him. Whoever did it had my gratitude.
One year when Bill was down south hunting I went out. This was not something I usually did. We were a team, but for some reason I got a brain fart and thought why the hell not. I got a babysitter and Bill's sister, Ruth went with me. I had a great time. I danced and drank and generally cut loose, but I swear I didn't do one thing wrong. In hindsight, bar hopping was probably not my smartest choice but it never occurred to me just how many of his friends would see me out. We got home late and I fell into bed.
The next morning Ruth asked me if I was going to tell Bill.
"I haven't really thought about it," I answered.
"Well someone is going to tell him," she sighed over her coffee. "In fact if you don't tell him, I'll have to."
Great, I thought, a traitor in my midst.
I'll never forget the day he came home from hunting. I crawled onto his lap and confessed, not that there was much to confess, but still. He would not like hearing that his little wife had been out raising hell while he was gone hunting. All in all, he took it well. Let's just say he grilled me a little and leave it at that.
The truly amazing thing was, he never went again, never. Oh he hunted locally with some of his friends, but that was the last overnight trip.
I sort of felt bad about it and the next year when they all packed up to leave I encouraged him to go. I promised I would not go out, but he wouldn't. He said he'd been wrong to go for all those years and leave me to take care of everything on my own. He said I shouldn't have to wrestle that turkey, getting it in and out of the oven, and that he was going to be there to help me. And he was, from that year forward.
I don't even want to cook a turkey this year. Friends and family have pointed out how hard the holidays will be this year, as though it's a surprise to me. Every day is hard, every night is even harder. Our anniversary is next Tuesday. If I wasn't already taking Xanax for anxiety I would buy a big bottle of champagne and drink it all by my lonesome. In fact, there's a drunk out there with my name on it and one of these days I'm going to run into it and drink myself into oblivion.
That sounds bad, doesn't it, but oblivion is pretty appealing right now.
On a totally unrelated note, I mean to getting drunk and losing my mind, this is one of my favorite pictures of Bill and our granddaughter.