Saturday, February 26, 2011
You don't really know someone until you've seen them sick. I think there is a very good reason that "in sickness and in health" has been included in marriage vows for eons--it just ain't a pretty sight.
It is one thing to fall madly in love at the inception of a new relationship--after all, we are on our best behavior: freshly showered with a snazzy coif, smelling good and wearing the jeans that make our butt look best; we practice our witty retorts and tend to laugh and smile...a lot. And then we move forward a little: we are still trying to be up early to brush our teeth and comb our hair before climbing back into bed, still wearing bras and avoiding the loose, comfy underwear. But, as anyone who has opted to stay in a relationship for the longer haul knows, eventually somebody (and usually both somebodies) gets sick.
Alas, that is where the real love begins to develop. Teri and I have both been sick a few times in the course of our two-plus years together, and since we fully acknowledge that we are getting older and not younger, it is likely to be one of those things we maneuver again and again for the next forty years. We have different approaches, she and I--Teri is much better at the self care: she drinks hot tea and takes naps and can describe her symptoms in eloquent detail. I, on the other hand, tend to try to ignore and pretend that I am NOT getting sick until it is unavoidably upon me and then I vacillate between whining and isolating. I also have this philosophy that the cure for any sickness is to just get outside and let fresh air work its magic. Don't ask me where I came up with that, but I am sure it is in a medical text somewhere (okay, maybe one from the fifteenth century.) As for describing my symptoms, I am so busy trying to pretend I'm not sick that I haven't much more than "sniffles" and "sick" to share for what I might have.
True love is being able to continue to snuggle up to a partner who might sneeze all over you at any moment; it is being able to say "poor baby" when she scuffles out of the bathroom for the umpteenth time; it is still managing to say something saucy and flirtatious after you've watched her run to the sink with a big chunk of phlegm she's just coughed up. True love isn't always hearts and flowers and boudoir behaviors--ask any long-term committed couple and they will likely remind you that real love is all about the "in sickness and in health" stuff.