Saturday, July 24, 2010
We were in the final ten minutes of preparing for the arrival of three members of my husband's family—earlyish in the morning, wicked heat of the day already arrived, my post-oral surgery face looking like a boxer's favorite punching bag. I was in the shower, to which I had rushed and in which I was counting down the checklists, when I heard my husband's voice. "Um," he said. "There's been an accident." Something broken, I thought, but when I pushed the curtain back I saw his hand, or, I should say, I saw the arm that connects to the hand, embellished by towels soaked with red.
One has to stop and think about accidents. What, I wondered, briefly, was that?
But of course it was his hand, and soon I learned that it had been impaled (or something like that) by the hummingbird feeder my husband had inadvertently dropped. With guests arriving in just two hours, with the scrubbed house now looking most assuredly less white, more red, we were off—down the road to the emergency room, where we would spend the next four hours before my husband emerged with a mummy wrapped hand and the name of the surgeon who would be working on his severed tendons this coming week.
I've spent time in emergency rooms before, and of course, they collect, they distill stories. Today there were many that came and went—stories I could imagine, stories I could not, and one story that I heard through a hung curtain—a wife telling the story of a husband's tumor, and how it had grown. A wife, speaking of her husband with so much teach-able, unbreakable love. The husband let her talk for him; he was exhausted, it was clear. Later, while I paced, I saw the man fast asleep, the wife stroking his pale and trusting hand.
Love looks like that.