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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

For Better or Worse

Andrea’s surgery was last Thursday. I didn’t sleep well the night before and when my alarm went off at 5 AM on Thursday, I attempted to comfort myself by telling myself that I would be home mid-to-late afternoon when I could eat lunch and get a nap. I drew a tarot card from the color, tarot of plants deck. Because I’m not very familiar with the deck, I didn’t have time to look up what the card that I drew meant.

I was able to meet the surgeon and team of nurses before Andrea was brought back for surgery. The nurse called my cell around 945 to tell me that surgery had gotten underway around 9 AM. At around noon, the nurse called once again to let me know Andrea was out of surgery, that she was fine and surgery went well but “there had been a lot of damage to clean up.” The nurse indicated that I’d be able to see Andrea in approximately 1 and a half to 2 hours. After 3 hours had passed, I went to the front desk to ask if they had any updates. At 3.5 hours, the nurse phoned the front desk and spoke with me. She put Andrea on the phone.

Andrea croaked out a hello.

“How do you feel?” I stupidly asked.

“Like I was hit by a truck.” Andrea replied.

“You sound like it.” I agreed. Very encouraging, I think to myself.

I was finally able to see Andrea so that someone not under the influence of narcotics could hear the discharge instructions. A nurse came in and began reviewing the discharge instructions with Andrea.

“Are you on birth control?” The nurse asked.

“No….” Andrea replied, “Even if I was, THAT doesn’t seem like a very good idea right now.” Andrea gestures at herself and I begin laughing. The nurse seems uncertain as to how to respond and looks at me. She soon leaves the room but Andrea isn’t done yet.

“I mean… imagine how horny you have to be?!” Andrea again gestures and looks at herself. “If you’re that horny, you no doubt have two working arms and you should take care of it yourself.” I laugh so hard I’m crying.

Yesterday, a friend texts me and remarks, “I’ve also thought a lot about what dream marriage is when you’re young and single. Marketing ads, and then what it really is – dry shampoo, helping to get on the toilet, etc.” Truer words were never spoken. At your wedding, the vows include “in sickness and in health”. Everyone agrees to this without really considering what that really entails. A 2009 article in Science News notes that, “A woman is six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after a diagnosis of cancer or multiple sclerosis than if a man in the relationship is the patient, according to a study that examined the role gender played in so-called "partner abandonment." The study also found that the longer the marriage the more likely it would remain intact.” I think of this, not because I’m plotting my escape but because I was always relieved that my husband’s friend stood by her as together they faced years of breast cancer treatment. I was at their wedding and I’m sure that neither of them imagined that when they exchanged their vows. I think that in sickness and in health should come up earlier, like at the bridal shower. Make it a Jack and Jill shower and instead of playing pointless party games, married souls who’ve been together a while can stand up and share war stories.

I know that there are some couples who are very proper – they don’t dare pass gas in front of one another and they take care to shut the bathroom door. Andrea and I were never a proper couple. I can imagine standing up at a shower and asking the unsuspecting groom to be, “Okay… picture this. Your bride suspects she has an ingrown hair… down there. You know? And she asks you to take a look at the bump she feels. Do you?” I imagine shoving a bite of cake into my mouth and waiting for the young man to reply while adding, “This isn’t sexy time either, bub. This bump HURTS!”

If, by the end of the bridal shower, the bride and groom decide to call the whole thing off, they can keep the gifts. Just divvy them up. I mean – who really cares. It’s cheaper than divorce. Let them have the goddamn instapot. In all likelihood, the couple won’t call it quits. They will laugh it off. Her later saying, “Jesus. I wouldn’t DREAM of having you look at a bump down THERE! Can you imagine?!” You can't really predict something like that. Sure. You want to maintain an air of mystery and remain attractive to your mate. But in reality, one day, you'll be outside taking down your Christmas decorations and you think you can discretely pass gas and what happens instead is that you shart yourself. For better or worse.

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