This past week, I've been under the weather with a mysterious illness. On Tuesday, my lymph nodes started to swell up. By Wednesday they were the size of golf balls and very tender. And then some glands in my cheeks started to do the same. Needless to say, by Wednesday night I looked like I had gained twenty pounds on my face. I actually had no other symptoms of any kind save being a tad achy and tired - so when I went to the doctor on Friday, even he was stumped. Whatever it is, it seems to be subsiding with the antibiotics he gave me though, but the whole week of dealing with this has been awful.
I've been sick since Drew died a few times - colds, flus, stuff like that. But the last time I remember my anything that changed my physical appearance was when I got my wisdom teeth removed a few years ago. And he was by my side the whole time… laughing at my chipmunk cheeks and making me laugh which made me look even dumber and made us both laugh even harder. Funny as it was, I knew I looked awful, yet here I was looking completely beautiful through this man's eyes.
Even with gauze shoved into my face and swelled up cheeks for miles, there was this man. This man who drove me there and waited with me at the dentist. Who calmed me and held my hand because I was so scared to have a tooth pulled that I was getting anxiety. This man who picked up my medicine for me at the pharmacy and got my soup. Who watched with loving humor as the Codeine took affect and made my already very talkative self about 1000 times more talkative…. until I totally crashed 3 hours later. For all of that, and for all the many other ordinary, vulnerable moments, he was there…. Looking at me with those beautiful blue-hazel eyes that said everything about being sick was pretty. Even the stuff that wasn't. Because those were some of the most tender and most beautiful moments of showing our love for one another. I really miss that.
This week, I did not feel beautiful. I felt hideous, and fat, and so completely self-conscious that - despite having no other symptoms and feeling pretty fine - I did not leave the house for four days. Not even to have dinner with his/our family - whom I still live with. I did not want a soul on the planet to see my looking this way. I only wanted one soul to see me - the one who I knew really saw me… him. It made me realize just how fortunate I was to have had the kind of man who would take such wonderful care of me. A man who was so in love with me that I could see my own beauty through his eyes - and that even after he died, his love continues to make me feel like the most beautiful girl most days.
Just… not on the days when your head swells up three times its normal size. On those days, it doesn't matter how strong and unbreakable your love is, you want your person THERE. Really there. I wanted so badly for him to look at me from behind those glasses with hint of a smile that tells me everything I need to know. Or to feel his arms wrapped around me, embracing me and my puffiness. Or to have him make me laugh at my own ridiculous of thinking I look hideous at all. Those are the things I really miss. The ones I would give anything to have back.
Instead, though, there was a different kind of love there for me. His mom's love. It was she who called me every day around lunch to see how I was feeling and what the doctor said. She who brought me home Gatorade and soup - and not just soup, but like ten different flavors… a buffet of soups. It didn't make me feel beautiful, not in the way his love can… but still, I have felt so deeply loved and cared for.
For a gal who lost her mother as a child, it is impossible for me to take for granted these moments. I was eight years old the last time my own mother cared for me while I was sick. I'd given up on ever feeling any sort of deep motherly nurturing long ago. Now, twenty four years later, I am feeling that love through his mom and our relationship that has been fostered and deepened in the wake of his death. In a way, it is also feeling her son's love for me through her - and her love for her son, too. It's a gift beyond gifts and one I never imagined I would hold. She is, as many have called her, my angel.
So there was still much love this week. A different kind. Nothing will ever be the same as how he made me feel when I was sick, but I don't guess there's any need to compare. I suppose sometimes we just have to allow our partners to send their love to us through those who are still here to give it.
Wishing you good health as the cold & flu season comes.
And if you do get sick, don't forget to let the love and caring of others help make the sick days more beautiful.