Between Two Lungs – Florence and the Machine
Anther good day. I manage to walk right round (most of) the park. Finally, the weather is warming. And two friends drop in for lunch. We talk about trivia and holidays, and the future. And not about myeloma.
Marisa, who is away with the boys (because it’s the Easter holiday, and I’m not fit for active Dad duty), calls. Lyndon has a fever. I can hear in her voice the natural, but urgent, motherly concern, while we discuss the situation. We agree he should have some paracetamol, and that we’ll review the situation in an hour. An hour later his temperature is down a bit. We discuss again, and decide that she will endeavour to put him to bed, maybe waking him later for a dose of ibuprofen. Hopefully, that way, he’ll sleep soundly ’til the morning. I’m painfully aware that she is single-handedly caring for three children right now, while I sit here recuperating. It gets me thinking about the strong arms I have needed, to hold me, with my myeloma.
Strong enough to be two parents in one. Strong enough to take care of all the children, day in, day out. To make sure their life continues as normally as possible, despite all the crazy chaos that is thrust on us, despite all the unpredictability and all the days when Daddy just isn’t up to it.
Strong enough to be all the muscles. Strong enough to get the bike rack on and off the car, to get things out of the loft or put them in, to empty all the bins, to carry all the bags, to do all the packing and unpacking, to carry the baby, to do all the gardening, to do all the shopping, to change all the light bulbs, to hang all the washing, to carry all the laundry baskets, to do all the cooking, to do all the washing up, to always load and unload the dishwasher, to do all those random bits of DIY. Strong enough to do every single physical thing that needs doing, because in the depths of bone pain and chemo, myeloma reduced me to a point where I could hardly carry the weight of my own clothes.
Strong enough to be beside me. Strong enough to lie quietly while I groan my way in and out of bed. Strong enough not complain when I wake up endlessly and perform a slow elaborate ritual of trying to get comfortable. Strong enough to help me when I need physical assistance in order to stand up. Strong enough change my socks. Strong enough to ignore me when I wince and moan as I move about the house. Strong enough to pretend it’s OK that I have to sit down while I brush my teeth. Strong enough to run up or down stairs to get things for me because I can’t face getting out of my chair. Strong enough to bring me dinner in bed, and sit with me while I eat it (while I grumble about not being able to get my legs comfortable and not having any appetite). And strong enough, through the (2, or was it 3?) months when this was the crude truth of our existence, to never once have pointed out to me how bad it was.
Strong enough to love me. Strong enough to accept me whether I’m high on steroids, or monged on morphine. Strong enough to still love me when I’m pale and bald and hunched and shuffling. Strong enough to be a Mum all day and a hospital visitor all evening, taking care of me in much the same way she takes care of the children.
Strong enough to wait. To wait, so patiently, for the days that I’m just beginning to believe are coming, when all of those things will be behind us, and our family can be normal again. (How I’m looking forward to those days, and how we will treasure them.) And strong enough (I hope!) to stick with me, even though we both know it could all happen again.
I’m fortunate to have lots of support. My parents, in particular, have helped us enormously, and shared the load. But without any shadow of a doubt, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Marisa.