You woke up hot with fever, so achy it hurt to roll over in bed. So I kissed your brow and forced a pill down your throat and I tucked you in and went about my day.
Roused sleepy children. Reminded them to brush teeth and pack homework. Sent one off with a kiss, drove two to school, then walked our little one to class, his incessant chatter and sweet dimple keeping me company all the way.
And as I came through the door, and saw dirty breakfast plates and wet towels on the floors and bathroom lights left on, I remembered that you were sick. And that none of this would be here if you weren’t.
Our dryer’s on the fritz, and the new parts arrived, but you are too sick to fix it. So I carry a heavy load of wet laundry next door to Mom’s and put it in the dryer. Then I check on you, bring you a hot cup of coffee to clear your stuffy sinuses, rub your back. I start another load of laundry and tackle the dishes.
My mother calls, wondering if you’ve ordered the AC units for the house she’s flipping. I say no, you are sick. So I order them. She asks how much more laundry I have to do, and when will my dryer be fixed. Lots, I say, and when Mike is feeling better. She says she hopes you feel better soon, because our four loads a day are wearing her dryer out.
Packages arrive, heavy client equipment that must be calibrated. I carry them carefully out to your shop while my arms shake, ensure the voicemail is set and the doors are locked.
I bring you fresh water, plump up your pillows, realize we are out of Nyquil. I go to the store. I throw in the Tapioca pudding you love, a box of strawberry popsicles for your burning throat. I get home and dose you up, change the laundry, fold your t-shirts into perfect rectangles the way you like them. Our daughter texts us that she has a flat tire, and I tell her you’re sick, to call AAA when she gets out of class, that she is capable and competent and can figure it out.
You send me out for lunch, Wendy’s Chili, extra hot sauce. I make up a bed on the couch for you, and you eat while I do more laundry. Then I get an hour of blessed peace to write.
I pick up our two youngest from school, along with our nephew, buy them ice cream cones, and head home. They have fifteen minutes to eat before music lessons, and after I drop them off, I put car in my gas, clean out my car, and shop for groceries.
Home. Homework. Chores. Cuddles. More running next door to fetch dry laundry. You are watching election results and insist I sit down and take a break and watch. I do, but I’m also calling out for the kids, checking homework, ensuring the family machine is still at work.
I give you another dose of Nyquil. I remember to eat.
And as the day winds down, I realize how much you help, and how much it sucks when you’re sick. Not because I have to take care of you, which I love doing. Certainly because I hate that you don’t feel well. But it’s more than that. You are my partner in all things, and when you’re down, I realize how much you do for the family. And I miss your grabby hands and your leering eyes and your promises for the time when the kids are asleep. Those things keep me going.
I don’t ever want to be without you.