I’m feeling rather gray and gloomy today, like the motionless monochrome sky. I went out with wet hair, first to breakfast with Steve’s mom, then to do laundry at the laundromat, then to the grocery store. I feel thoroughly chilled. I think my hair is still wet. Yet, there’s no snow on the ground, so I can’t really blame the weather. It’s still far from wintry…not like it was, say, four years ago…
Four years ago, there was a snow storm. Four years ago, the Super Bowl was on. Four years ago, my husband was in the hospital.
I could give you the whole background history on his medical odyssey, but it would come out dry and clinical. What I’m feeling now is more surreal. Let’s just say that he was in the cardiac wing, waiting to be stabilized enough for surgery. Waiting. Like waiting for Godot. There was no sense of time after a few days. Doctors would come and go and offer conjectures and imagine scenarios. I got the feeling that I should simply camp out with him and see what happened. So I did.
My husband was a sports fan, and the Super Bowl game was a big party occasion on our calendar most years. During the regular football season, we’d watch games together on Sunday afternoons and nap through a good chunk of them. I can enjoy the game and root for the underdog or a sentimental favorite, and usually Jim would fill me in on some of the finer points of strategy or history. I guess you could say we were companionable about it. Jim watched a lot of TV in his later years, and in the hospital, there’s not much else to do. “Camped out in the cardiac wing” meant that during visiting hours, you could find me squeezed in next to him on the bed, cranked up in sitting position, watching whatever was on the box suspended from the ceiling. But I thought the Big Game should be more festive. So I asked the nurses if we could watch it from the visitor’s lounge on the floor, on the big screen, and invite a friend or two. They gave their permission.
It wasn’t a party. It was just me, Jim and one of our church friends who stopped by for a while. I brought a couple of coolers with snacks and drinks. I got in trouble for bringing beer. Not that Jim was drinking it, but I guess it was against some rule, because a nurse came by and told me I couldn’t have it there. Jim was comfortably situated in one of the lounge chairs with his IV pole and beepy-thing beside him. We were in clear view of the nurses’ station the whole time. A few other hospital visitors peeked in periodically, but mostly, we were alone. Our friend Dave told us that there was a huge snowstorm outside. Toward the end of the game, we actually lost power for a while. When it was over, it was past visiting hours, and I was concerned about digging my car out of the parking lot and driving home, so I packed up my coolers and kissed Jim good-bye pretty quickly. Three days later, he had his surgery. Ten days after that, he was dead.
I found out today that the two teams that are in the Super Bowl this year are the same two teams that played four years ago today. They will play on Sunday. And I won’t be watching. I haven’t watched a football game in a long time. We don’t even have a TV.
Life changes. Waiting only lasts a while. Those days, suspended in gray like a snowflake, drift down slowly, but eventually, they evaporate, and something else takes their place.
I’m okay with that…I think… Yeah. I’m okay.