My Wife Almost Died, And Now The 'Little Things' Mean So Much More
The other day, I sat in the living room and listened to my wife, Mel, laughing. She was watching “iCarly” on Netflix with our daughter, and she was honestly and truly laughing herself silly. And listen, I’ve known Mel for 17 years. I know her better than I know anyone else, and I love her more than I’ve ever loved anyone, so I can say this with complete authority: she is a sucker for cheesy tween comedies, and it’s completely adorable.
“Hannah Montana,” “Sam and Cat” … you get the idea. And each time she watches them, she laughs and then says “I shouldn’t find this so funny” and then laughs some more. And while I know all of this about my wife, I have to say, this was the first time I’d heard her laugh like this since getting out of the hospital.
Back in November, she spent over three weeks there, fighting sepsis. To give you an idea of how close a call this was, one of the ER doctors told us that if we’d waited even an hour longer to bring her into the hospital, we would have lost her. Hearing that, I nearly cried, right then and there in the hospital. For three days she was in the ICU, and during that time I was pretty sure I was going to be a widower. It was easily one of the longest slogs of my life, and the day we were able to bring her home was the highlight of a pretty crummy 2020.
Her recovery has been going pretty well, honestly. She’s been working from home. She’s regained her appetite, and she’s been able to drive again. Her follow up appointments have gotten less frequent, and she’s been arguing with the kids again over homework, and chores, which tells me she’s got much of her strength back. And at the beginning of the year, she started walking a couple miles a day again. However, before going to the hospital she was a pretty regular runner, and I haven’t seen her run in months.
Sure, she’s been chuckling at my silly dad jokes from time to time, and she laughs at the kids and their antics. And she works at our kids’ school, and while on Zoom, I can sometimes hear her laugh at what her students say. But I hadn’t heard her laugh long and hard like she did last Sunday at that tween comedy in months, and it was one of the most comforting sounds I’ve heard in recent memory.
The sound of her overwhelming joy put me at peace after everything we’d been through. I like to think I’m the kind of person who notices the little things, but in the shadow of my wife’s time in the hospital, it seems like the little things I previously walked past without noticing have been put under a microscope. I can’t help but take complete satisfaction in her recovery, and notice things that I surely had seen before, but never admired — like the adorable way she hums ever so softly as she makes herself breakfast in the morning, or how cute she looks each time she gets on her tippy toes to look through the peephole in the front door.
When you almost lose someone you truly love, like I did at the end of the year, you cannot help but find yourself watching them, rooting for them, and hoping that they will return to what they were before the illness. And with each step in their recovery, you begin to notice these small things that they probably did a million times a day before they got sick, but they were so normal, and so casual, that you didn’t take note of them until they stopped. But once those things are gone, you long for them, and with each step in the right direction, those changes back to their old self hit you like a wave of comfort, because it shows you that they are in fact getting better.
So without shame, I sat in the other room and listened to Mel laugh and talk about how she shouldn’t find this “so funny.” I felt a wave of peace washing over me. I felt grateful that Mel, and her adorkable laughter at tween comedies, was still part of my life. I didn’t say one word about any of this to her, because I kind of felt like a creeper, but more importantly I didn’t want to ruin her good mood. I just listened, basking in the overwhelming comfort of knowing that the woman I love more than anyone else in the world was taking one more step towards full recovery. And it filled me with an optimism I hadn’t felt in months.
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