Today’s our sixteenth year together in marriage, my wife Angelia and I. Except that we’re not together on this special day. Twelve days ago, my eighty-five year-old mother-in-law collapsed outside her senior high-rise in the lower Hill District in Pittsburgh. She fractured her chin and broke her right wrist in the process. Between that and her various medications for her heart and blood vessels, my mother-in-law became deeply depressed and agitated, to the point where the doctors postponed one of her surgeries. And that was within thirty-six hours of her collapse.
So my wife left for Pittsburgh eleven days ago to help take care of her mommy, to make sure the doctors and nurses did right by her, to maybe help lift her spirits, to get her affairs in better order. Thankfully, my mother-in-law recovered emotionally and psychologically, to be the cranky curmudgeon she’s always been. The doctors did my mother-in-law’s wrist surgery last Thursday, and they moved her to a rehab nursing home on Tuesday. There, maybe my mother-in-law can learn to be ambidextrous for the first time in her life.
The result has been that this is the second longest time me or my wife and my son have been away from one another (the longest were the two-week stretches I spent teaching at Princeton in the summers of ’08 and ’09, where I’d come back for a day or two). For her, I’m happy that her mommy is doing better, that everything worked out. It has been exhausting for me, being a single parent for more than a week and a half. But for Angelia, running around dealing with insurance and financial issues, family dynamics, a deeply depressed mother, and being away from us. I’m sure she’s ready to find a cave with a nice soft pillow and bed for hibernation. I’m sure because that’s how I felt after just six days in Mount Vernon in July 2010, working with my own severely depressed Mom to ensure that my late sister Sarai got the proper send off.
My wife not being here on this day is uncharted territory. No dinner plans or special desserts. No cards or flowers or other gifts. I will be able to do some of this once she’s back. The only thing that makes sense after the past two weeks is a co-ed day spa, where the two of us can get full body massages. That, and enough ZQuil for us to both sleep at least twelve hours, is on the consideration menu.
Wow, that’s about one hundred words too many to say that I miss my partner in life today! Still, Happy Anniversary!