I was up coughing all night still fighting off a cold that I got last week. Luckily Michael has not contracted my cold.

He was up and showered and had breakfast. This was a good sign as he showed no confusion or problems. I struggled to get dressed because I was so tired from coughing all night but I didn’t want to upset his rhythm that he had so I hurried to get us down in the car. When he’s doing well I try to capitalize on it.

We take off for radiation and it is pouring rain. There are times during the drive when it is coming down in torrents. But we keep up cheerful banter in the car and for this, I am grateful.

I stop at a gas station and I pump my gas. I am freezing and it feels so odd to be pumping my own gas. Michael always kept my tank full for me. The past few weeks I’ve had to remind myself to get gas as it’s something I’m not used to. I take out the garbage, take in the groceries, clean the litter boxes, sweep out the garage, pump my own gas and worry about everything and anything. Things I’m not used to doing. Things I would prefer not to do.

As we drive up to the hospital, all the radiation spaces are taken so I park a little bit away. I take Michael’s arm and try to get him to move a bit quicker toward the hospital because the rain is relentless, but he’s still very slow.

As we get close to the hospital there is a gaggle of Canada geese on the lawn. Michael wants to stop and see them. I gently pull him toward the door and promise we’ll see them on the way out.

In the radiation center is the young woman that the hospital staff had asked Michael to speak with when he was in rehab. She was going for a brain biopsy and was very scared so they had him talk to her. Her whole face lit up when we came into the room. They haven’t seen each other in weeks.

They sat down and talked. Her biopsy revealed a malignant brain tumor as well. She is in her 20s and has small children. Her youngest is one. I know Michael’s heart breaks when he talks to the younger patients. He says that whenever he feels sorry for himself, he thinks of the kids and the young parents. She seemed so relieved to see him and talk to him and he was talking to her in a way I’ve never really seen him speak to anyone outside the family. Very paternal and concerned.

He was so much sharper in there than he was yesterday. I was glad because we had a long wait and he had his friend to talk to. Sometimes when he’s having a bad day, he gets up and wanders around the radiation suite and I have to go get him. I don’t like it and it embarasses him…today I didn’t have to do that.

On the way out the rain had worsened. I glanced out the door and said, “Honey, wait here and let me get the truck so you don’t have to walk across the slick parking lot.” The last thing he needs is to get hurt. I only had on a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt and the wind whipped through me the minute I opened the door.

As I ran across the pavement, the rain blew in sheets and drenched the bottom of my pants. As I ran, I remembered, for some reason, when we were living in Massachusetts and I was going to college. I had a night class, 3 hours, on Tuesday nights. The college was over an hour from our house. Michael, who had worked all day, would drive me to school. I had never asked him. It was just something he wanted to do. I would go to class and come out and he would be asleep in the truck. Often we’d stop and get something to eat on the way home. The kids were all younger and we had a lot of stuff to do with them all the time so Tuesdays were almost like a date night. But he would get up at 5:00 am to go to work while I had Wednesdays off. But he never missed a Tuesday night all semester.

In 12 years Michael has been the one to chauffeur everyone here and there. He has never been late…in fact you can count on him to show up an hour early. He’s traveled hours to take all the kids to camp and other places, was always the one to pick up and drop off…he has run and run and run for the family and has never once complained–even when the boys grew up he was always there to meet them and drive them or pick them up.

When we moved to California in 2000, Michael drove us all across country because the airlines wouldn’t guarantee that the animals would make it in the summer heat. So we drove 3000 miles in an RV with a decidedly un-RV person (me), a 7 year old, a dog and 3 cats–two who were petrified and one who kept beating up the dog.

Somewhere in the midwest I had had it with sleeping in the RV. I wanted a hotel shower and bed. But the hotel wouldn’t let the animals in. I was going to take turns with Michael sleeping in the RV so the animals didn’t freak out completely. He came into the hotel, took a shower and then he went out to spend the night with the animals while Gina and I slept in the hotel room. He dropped us off, drove back to MA by himself, and drove back to California again. He did the same for our move to Texas and New York. He’s held the cats going through airport security as they clawed into his chest and stopped along the road one night when the dog wasn’t feeling well. He’s a drive-through-the-night person but the dog was getting older and not weathering the trips as he once had, so Michael stopped for the night and slept in the van with the dog and the cats because the dog seemed to need a break from the motion. Michael acts like a little tough guy but has a heart of gold.

And did I mention never once complain? He’d make funny stories out of it but never once complain.

Michael is at once the most open-minded and easy going and progressive person I know and also extremely old fashioned about what it means to be a man. To him, the running around and picking up and dropping off is the job of the father. You just do what you need to do for the family. My boys will say that it is Michael who taught them what it means to be a man. Do the right thing and take care of your responsibilities. No matter what. He has never let any of us down. He has been there for me and the kids in a way that few people are ever there for anyone. No one in my life has ever come close to being there for me the way Michael has been. No one. Ever.

So today as I was running across the parking lot, soaked pants, I realize how much inconvenience he has shielded me from in 12 years. From pumping my own gas to picking up the kids to moving the animals to driving home after a 3 hour night class. He’s just always made everything easy for me.

So I pull the car in front of the hospital and run up the walk to get him. He’s smiling as he comes through the door, somewhat oblivious to the rain as he has a heavy coat and a hat on. He spies the geese again and stands and watches them.

The rain beats down on my head and through my sweatshirt. My glasses are splattered and my hair is soaked but I stand there holding his arm and not moving until he’s ready. He wants to look at the geese. Fine, we’ll look at the geese. We stand very still. The geese look at us. We look at the geese. Michael thinks their looks are kinda funny and turns toward me laughing. I realize he has no idea that I’m drenched. But I laugh too. Rain, ducks, Michael. It’s all good.

After what seemed like a long time, he finally turns away from the geese. He is still smiling as we walk toward the car. I help him into his side and then run around to my side, shivering as I climb into the car and put on the heat.

I pat his arm as we take off and once again, we banter cheerfully despite the gloomy weather outside.

All in all, it’s a good day.

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