So, I was telling you about the fall of '81.
My blue period.
My blue period.
A week after the window exploded, I was nursing the baby when the phone rang. Walking backwards to answer (so I wouldn't expose my bare boob to Ron, the carpenter who lived on my deck) I clipped the end table. My knee went out from under me, and I fell, throwing Marta in the air. She landed on the hard kitchen tile, and I landed in a twisted heap. Ron dashed in to rescue both of us. The baby was fine, but I wasn't. After a few hours in the emergency room, I came home with crutches and a leg brace for the torn ligaments in my knee.
Fast forward another two weeks. Neighbors helped with my preschoolers; Marta spent her life on my bed, surrounded by diapers because I couldn't carry her and walk on my crutches at the same time.
That Saturday morning Dee had a leg-ache and took a couple of aspirin. Within minutes he was turning blue, unable to breathe. The paramedics arrived, gave him a shot of epinephrine, and rushed him to the hospital. I was told to follow in my own car. In the ambulance Dee went into respiratory arrest, and heard them yell "We're losing him! We're losing him!" He looked out the window, saw the sign of our grocery store, and thought, "This is the last time I'll go past Dan's."
When I finally hobbled into the hospital and asked how he was, the frazzled doctor said, "He damn near died!" Dee was bundled in warm blankets, shivering from the trauma and the adrenaline, white and terrified. Seeing him in this state was not reassuring. I put on my happy face, and we talked about how lucky we were, how we'd laugh about this someday, how great the doctors were, but his fragile condition twisted my heart and I was sure life would never be happy again.
I became a single mom of seven under eleven, on crutches, trekking to visit my critically ill husband in the ICU every day for two weeks. One night I told the kids they could go see Dad in the hospital the next morning. Micah (who was eight) said, "I thought he was dead." Josh said "We thought you just didn't want to tell us."
On Christmas morning the kids began clambering for festivities about dawn. We'd already received our gift—the flu. Dee was in the bathroom throwing up so I put on my happy face and acted the role of Mrs. Claus with an upset stomach and pounding head. The happy face mask was too tight, beginning to fray at the edges. I couldn't stand wearing it anymore.
Six months passed, the workmen were gone, the kids were installed in their cool new rooms, my crutches were stashed in the garage, and Dee was back in the pink. However, I was wrapped in blues. Life was getting darker and darker, although nobody else seemed to notice.
I was all sunshine outside my house, but my own little world was dismal. I had dizzy spells, double vision and random aches and pains—I was certain I had a fatal disease. Headaches lasted for days; I'd wake up positive my leg was paralyzed; sometimes I felt like I was walking above the ground. I blew up at the slightest thing, and had tantrums right along with my kids. I'd call Dee to come home in the middle of the day because in my frantic state of mind, I imagined all sorts of terrible things were happening to me or my kids—I was full of fear, doubt and worry.
The hardest part was that I couldn't let anyone in on my humiliating secret. Family, neighbors, and friends all complimented me on how how together I was, how I accomplished so much. I was coming apart, but I had to keep up my image.