Today is Valentine’s Day. A day that morphed from celebrating a martyred Christian saint’s death to pushing mass consumerism down our throats. Jewelry. Flowers. Chocolates. Cards. If you don’t break the bank on things, word has it you’ll be in the dog house. In my
way more stupid younger years, I’ll admit, flowers and shiny bits held sway over me. I loved having the biggest bouquet, the honking ring, dinner reservations at candlelit bistros. But with age, thank God, came wisdom.
First, let me tell you how my Valentine’s Day was supposed to go. I wanted to wake up early and leave the gifts I put together for the girls by their beds while they were still sleeping so they’d see them when they woke up. I wanted to bring Mark coffee in bed and spend some quiet time with him before he had to start blowing out the driveway and then head to work. The snow day would be spent cozy in the house with my beautiful girls..crafting, watching 80’s movies and reading good books while we made something in the crock pot and waited for Mark to come home.
Now let me tell you how it really went. At 3am, I was jolted awake by a weird, sharp pain in my lower back. I’ve been fighting what we thought was a urinary tract infection since Monday but the symptoms were abating and I thought I was in the clear. By 4:00 this morning, I was hurting. Really hurting. Horrible muscle spasms, awful bladder pressure, stabbing side and back pains. Now I like to think of myself a tough girl. Not much gets me down and I’ve been sick enough to necessitate a trip to the hospital, but instead sucked it up and took care of the girls, who were sick as well. Mom’s don’t get sick days, yo. BUT…this was a different animal all together. Sometime before the sun came up, in the midst of pounding sleet and ice, I came downstairs and told Mark that something was seriously wrong and I was in a lot of pain. I could barely stand upright. The pain was getting worse, I was super nauseous, the pressure on my side and abdomen were almost unbearable. I made it to our bed and that’s about all I can remember before Mark told me the ambulance was coming.
Long, way-too-much-information-story short, it was a kidney stone that decided that it had had enough of being on the inside and wanted out. I’ve never had one before, had no clue it was there. The next 6 hours or so were spent getting CAT scans, pain-killers and fluids pumped into me. During all of this, Mark was a Godsend. He cleared a path in our driveway for the ambulance crew (God bless you, EMT. I can’t remember you clearly, but you were kind and I felt safe, thank you), got me into the ambulance, and took care of my girls. He took care of my children. It might not seem like much to you, but just a few years ago before I met him, if this had happened..*shudder* it would have been a very different story. I don’t even want to think about it. I was single, alone. If there had been a middle of the night emergency, it was on me and me alone to deal with. No help, no hand to hold, no one telling me, “I’ve got you, it’s gonna be OK”. The girls would have probably had to ride in the ambulance with me..oh my God, y’all. Hallee, in an ambulance? I don’t know who would end up getting admitted, her or me. Autistic kid afraid of strangers, strange places, loud noises and most of all HOSPITALS. Sweet Jesus…my blood pressure goes thru the roof just thinking about it.
But Mark was here. In a more lucid moment at the hospital, I saw a text from him that said something to the effect that he was going to wake the girls up and get over to me. I told him no, it would be too much for Hallee, it would be easier for all of us if they stayed there, who knows how long I could have ended up there. But, the stone did it’s thing, had it’s fun with me and ended up in a little plastic cup in the ER. There were texts with me apologizing for the chaos, and Mark being Mark and telling me he loved me and don’t worry about it.
Upon being sprung from Saint Joseph’s (God bless the funny and kind Dr.’s and RN’s in the ER today, too. You love your work and it shows) I called Mark and asked him to come get me, feeling guilty about having to corral the
jackals girls, get them into the car and drive over in nasty weather to pick my sorry, still pajama-wearing self up in the ER waiting room. No coat, bed head, slippers and carting a paper bag full of ER type goodies. Not one of my finer moments, y’all.
Expecting a lot of anxiety from Hallee, worry and fear from Mad..I climbed into the car. Both girls were dressed, hair beautifully done, and calm. He had explained everything to them, calmed Hallee, was honest with Mad and both girls felt safe as houses, because they were with him. If Mark says it’s going to be OK, well then it’s going to be OK.
So instead of flowers and chocolates, I got a truly wonderful gift this Valentine’s Day. I got shown how strongly I am loved. I got shown that I am protected, cared for and safe. I got shown that if worst came to worst, that my girls are safe and loved in my absence. I’d say I was a pretty lucky girl. As I’m typing this, he’s just come home from dropping off my prescriptions. He brought me roses, in addition to my a new iPhone that was my original Valentine’s Day gift. I don’t know what I did to get this lucky, I really don’t.
So maybe you didn’t get the big bouquet today. Maybe you didn’t get the ring/card/candy. None of that proves true love. True love stands next to you while you’re being wheeled out on a gurney, telling you it’s OK. True love gets your kids’ hair and teeth brushed. True love cleans the house and makes the beds and takes prescriptions to the drug store so you don’t have to when you’re feeling unwell. I have it, and I hope you do, too. Happy Valentine’s Day.