In this age of Instagram, Facebook, and Personal Weblogs, we find ourselves continually on display, posturing for a remote crowd of socially-distanced friends and strangers hungering for intimacy.
It’s fun to play around in this pool of self-selecting glimpses into each other’s lives. I devour Emily’s Instagram posts – how else will I watch Evie grow? I enjoy Kathie’s Facebook updates, happy to share in her ups and downs. And I revel in my writing life, live to share my epiphanies and hurrahs in comments and posts.
Four weeks ago, Bob suffered an impressive heart attack and we both fell off the map. We didn’t know it at the time because to Bob it seemed like an unusually prolonged bout of chest-clutching indigestion. We didn’t know we were about to embark on a dark roller coaster ride into the bowels of our psyches.
We went to a clinic the following Monday and when Dr. Whitt read his EKG, she blanched and sent us to the Emergency Room. I waited in the car until Bob called to say he was in an ambulance headed south to Reid Heart Center in Pinehurst. I can count on two fingers the times we’ve been forcibly separated in this manner.
Two weeks later, Bob returned home, thin, unsteady, stitched and stapled. Andy steadied him as he slogged up our long wheelchair ramp, across the ratty green AstroTurf, and over the jutting tin sill inside our back door.
At first, Bob was a full-time job, but as his newly-plumbed heart finds its footing, he is reinventing himself. I log his milestones: the day he was able to brush his teeth. His first shave. First solo shower. First amble across the lawn.
Meanwhile, I morph from caregiver to caretaker to gardener. On Sunday I allowed myself to crouch over a garden bed and pretty it up. It was what I most wanted to do right then and so I did it.
I have been unable to write. Although I took extensive notes from the seat next to Bob’s hospital bed, I find them tangled, technical, and too personal for sharing. The many conversations, the middle-of-the-night scares, the tender hand-holding moments all remain unwritten. Best we keep that mountain of stories close, incubated, to share with our daughters, my brothers, and our closest friends when we are able.
There is no public story here. Nothing to tell beyond the trite: We went to hell and back and are working towards a new normal. Everything seems either trifling and cliched, or unfathomably complicated. I have joined the silent millions who are too busy navigating to telegraph their blow-by-blows.