Salted Wounds and Crusty Resolve: A Decade of Marriage

“My tea tastes salty,” my husband said, putting down his mug as I flushed saline solution through his PICC line. I pulsed the syringe, like the home health nurse taught me, wiping his arm with an alcohol pad like I’d been doing it for years.

The first time I held a syringe of concentrated antibiotics and pushed it into his body, I felt bile rise in my mouth. He sat next to me at the kitchen table, his hand on mine as I opened the cap in his arm covering a hole-that-should-not-be. I pushed the infusion through his veins, meeting his eye, and then ran upstairs to vomit as soon as I re-capped the hole in his body.

As I approach my ten-year wedding anniversary, I think back on that period as one of the greatest test of my vows. At 26 years old, I promised to hold him in sickness and health, not really understanding what that meant.

I didn’t know then that he would contract Lyme carditis the night before we closed on the purchase of our second home. He spent that time in the cardiac ICU while I found a traveling notary public, combed the halls for witnesses to make sure I had Power of Attorney to complete a real estate transaction for him in absentia. I believe I wrote the phrase “Katy Adair Rank Lev, his attorney-in-fact” 200 times that day, before I went back to retrieve his car from the parking lot at the emergency room. He’d driven himself there in the middle of the night, failing to notice that our beloved Mazda’s odometer had turned to 100,000 miles along the way.

Whenever I had to open my husband’s hole-that-should-not-be, we first corralled our three wild sons into the learning tower nearby, commanding the oldest to keep his brothers’ grubby hands away from our medical procedures. On one of these occasions, the baby got loose. Our first and honored son narrated the baby’s process of dumping a gallon of white vinegar on the kitchen floor. What could we do but keep on measuring out heparin? As the vinegar oozed down the basement stairs, the children wept, I sweated profusely, and I understood what marriage meant.

At first it was refinishing floors and fighting over the last beer in the fridge. Asking him to rub sunscreen on my back, holding hands to go vote for the first African American President of the United States.

Slowly, our marriage came to mean “look this person in the eye during your moment of greatest suffering.” Like the time I had childbirth-induced urinary retention and Corey took me and our newborn son to the emergency room. He held our brand new infant at the foot of my bed, gazing in horror at the shredded, swollen center of my body, as the staff collected enough urine to fill two wine bottles. When we went to leave, the nurse strapped a catheter bag to my leg and told me nobody would even know it was there, if I wanted to wear a cute skirt or something. But my husband knew it was there, the warm bag of piss strapped to my thigh, and he held my hand.

He stood with me for all those things, and I stood by him.

For ten years, I have cursed that man for leaving soy milk caps on the counter and granola bar wrappers behind the couch. He has, for the same period of time, scolded me for blowing my monthly budget downloading romance novels I don’t even like reading.

Better or worse, I promised. Is it worse when we transform into writhing bundles of rage in response to 30-pound humans who refuse to put on shoes or consume food? When we scream at each other and keep score of who got more minutes of sleep–who started more loads of piss laundry? I’m still barely able to talk about the loss of my mother, and how her sudden death affected every element of my life. This grief I carry will certainly test that section of my vows. The better parts, the healthy parts…those have felt easy.

What I think about today is all the hard parts and what I see is that I need him with me for all of those things. Through the sickness and the hard times and the grief and agony, it’s felt absolutely necessary to be in a marriage with this man.

Our decade has been loud and messy, punctuated by loss and cardiac distress. It has been all that I promised, though I did not know then what that would look like. I feel like I’m entering our next decade with a better idea of what it really meant to promise those things to each other.

Here’s to ten years, Cookie Pie. Here’s to fifty more as well.

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 27th, 2017 at 12:56 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

 

3 Responses to “Salted Wounds and Crusty Resolve: A Decade of Marriage”

  1. Paul Matlin Says:

    What a beautiful essay, Katy. And I know exactly how you feel. After 36 years, I still get annoyed at some of the things that Carol does probably a small fraction of the things that I do that annoy her no end!). Yet, for all of that, I know that I could never be as happy with anyone else. Stress from jobs that demand 150% of us, raising two very active kids (I can’t even imagine what three must be like!), surviving the deaths of three parents over 10 years (my mother died before Carol and I even started dating), etc. – despite all of that, at the end of it, after the house has been cleared of kids and we are left alone with each other, there is such comfort that the other person is nearby, even if we are both involved in our own hobbies/vocations in separate parts of the house.

    I wish you and Corey all the best for another 50. And, what the heck, another 50 after that.

  2. Marsha Weiss Says:

    Katy,
    This is the most beautiful tribute to your ten married years together! I wish you the happiest anniversary and at least 50 more!
    Love,
    Marsha

  3. mom-mom Says:

    This post makes me happy and sad. So happy that you are can express the ups and downs of marriage so eloquently, but sad that I was not able to attend your wedding( at least not physically). But then VERY happy that I am here to celebrate 10 years later!

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