This morning I sat down to work my way through a giant pile of mail. Tucked in with all the other mail was a giant medical bill I wasn’t expecting. It has been many years of giant medical bills and they should no longer take my breath away, but for some reason this one made me feel like the wind had been knocked out of me. It was Mother’s Day and Colin knows me well enough to know that thing that I would want most is time to myself. He and the kids were out hunting and gathering a picnic for later in the day, and as I first sat and then stood in the office, then the kitchen, then outside, then inside all desperately trying to calm myself down, I just wanted him to appear.
In my head I was ticking off everything I have learned in my meditation and yoga studies. I was going back over all the other massive medical bills we have paid, and reminding myself that it would be fine. Still my head was spinning, I tried to sit for meditation, to lean into the feeling, to see if I could get at what was really at the bottom of it. Fear? Why the intense reaction to a problem I don’t want to solve but know I will.
When Colin walked in I was so relieved, I showed him the bill and described my complete and total meltdown at its arrival. He was calm, he agreed it sucked, he said we will deal with it tomorrow when it’s not Sunday. He didn’t tell me to calm down, or ask my why I wasn’t expecting it. I was able to exhale, we will deal with it tomorrow.
Being married is hard. Being married with young children is harder. Being married with a special needs child and all the stress that comes with it is harder still. Sometimes, I can’t believe how hard it is, but when Colin walked in the door and just his presence made me feel better, I was also overwhelmed by how lucky I am. Sometimes it takes these crises that come up — in this case an unpleasant problem with a solution — to remind me to be appreciative of all that I have.
It can be easy to overlook each other in the same house, or respond to the difficulties of a grown-up life by being nasty to each other. It is much harder to be honest, and sad, to be overwhelmed, and need help. I hear all the time from people about how their marriage or partner is different than they had imagined. When you are dating you never play the “How will you respond to medical bills?” game. Or, how about “What will we do if our child has a life long cognitive condition?” I didn’t seek out a partner thinking about the dark moments. But I am grateful every day that I found someone who sees the darkness and even if there is no quick fix will always keep reminding me that there is light up ahead as well, and just to keep moving forward together.