We had a baby! A little baby boy who finally arrived in our lives after nine long months of waiting. I was still exhilarated with the way his little hand had wrapped around my finger. But the joy was short lived. As we waited to get back home after the delivery, we were jolted with unknown complications my wife had developed. A blood disorder that threatened to take her life away.
I had the baby in one hand and my other hand outstretched holding my wife’s. I was dumbfounded and wrecked as she was wheeled away for scans and tests. My happiness and my new family life turned upside-down in the span of a few short hours. I was forced to be functional even as this unexpected shock hit us.
My wife is my rock, but I had to stand strong without her. I had to stand strong FOR her. It all felt completely out of place.
When you fear for your loved ones, you usually fear the worst. I wasn’t an exception. I was beginning to think, if only I could turn back all those years and live every moment with her...
We have all lived with this moronic assumption that gadgets and social media bring people closer, but I have seen it wreck face to face interactions even in the most important relationship of my life. Thanks to my work and my gadgets, I had spared no time for my wife. It took a jolt to realize her importance in my life- A jolt that I don't even wish upon my worst enemy.
My wife and I have known each other for over 8 years. It started off as friendship, then love, and finally marriage. On the surface, it seemed like we were progressing, but the sad truth was how we had slipped into a slow degeneration. We stopped interacting and lacked time for each other. No, no. I stopped interacting and I lacked time for her.
I have always been someone who is not socially adept, and speaks less. And she is the complete opposite. When I returned from work, I spent more time on the laptop and mobile phone. She would be so upset about how we had drifted apart. But I mostly dismissed it as how couples need to forget romance and be more practical as marriages progress. I was so wrong.
A year ago, we moved to the US for work. With no friends or family around us, we only had each other. It brought us closer. For the first time in 8 years, I was beginning to realize how much I had missed out on. I had such a wonderful partner. My BEST FRIEND was at home, and I had looked everywhere for emotional support when the chips were down. If only I had put that laptop or phone aside and spoken to her, I wouldn’t have grayed so early.
The arrival of the baby brought us closer still. I was rediscovering my love for her. And I wanted to make up for 7 years of neglect. That is when it struck like a lightning. Our moments of loving togetherness suddenly seemed like they would disappear forever.
I just wish... I just wish I had switched off that phone while talking to her. Turned off that cricket match. Not replied to that office e-mail late at night and listened to how her day had transpired. Or even stayed up long enough to give her company while she cleaned up the kitchen. Held back my hunger to dine with her. What wouldn’t I do to get back every minute that I didn’t spend with her?
You always regret everything in hindsight. I couldn’t get anything back. As my wife was being wheeled back into yet another room in the hospital, the doctor wore a grim expression. My face was flushed, heart thumping. The doctor told us that the situation was serious... But curable. Relief rushed over me in a huge wave. But I was still scared. I was still bloody terrified of losing the most wonderful woman in my life.
That is when I decided- I don’t care what happens, I am not letting the woman of my life go away. At ANY cost. I sat down next to my wife with tears in my eyes. And I told her, “We are going to fight this out. We have to see him grow and walk into the sunset together”. She had never seen me cry, and she did now. Her eyes welled up, but she wouldn’t show it. She knew it would break me.
I was fighting tears, but couldn’t. Here was the love of my life, who had almost left me. Here was my son, who had almost NOT seen the most amazing woman of his life.
She is right now undergoing a long and painful treatment. I sit beside her for hours while she is getting her IVs done. I don’t flinch. It doesn’t seem to bore me. I hate it that in the past, I couldn’t sit for 10 minutes to talk to her. I don't think I can ever make it up to her, but I'm trying to be a better husband. I am away from work, but it is not occupying my mind. I don’t bother to check my e-mails.
In the past, I wouldn’t miss replying to an e-mail. There are only two things that ring in my head right now- My wife and my kid. We haven’t had the chance in the past 2 weeks to celebrate our son’s arrival. But we know this too shall pass. And we will have a long and happy life together. This will only make us stronger. We are taking it slow and every day is a progress. But it’s a long haul.
I remember the lines of Robert Browning that I used to impress my wife 8 years back. "Grow old with me, the best is yet to be. The last of life, for which the first was made". I didn’t understand the enormity of it then. It took a tragic moment for me realize what it meant to me now.