Through and well beyond Aaron’s surgery and diagnosis, I said goodbye to normal.
It was gone for me, but not for anyone else who came to visit with me in the waiting room just yards away from where my boyfriend lay recovering from brain surgery, or sat in meetings with me at work while my husband spent five months at home going through radiation and chemo.
With all of them, I listened intently and sincerely as they described their regular gripes with their husbands and boyfriends.
The chores that didn’t get done, the anniversaries not quite remembered, the petty arguments were all music to my normality-deprived ears. The normal mundanities of a relationship were a luxury I never appreciated until it was too late.
Aaron had a hole in his brain now, and nothing would ever be the same again.
Until it was.
I’ll never know when, exactly, but somewhere between the world as we knew it and a profound new lease on life, we were able to sneak in some regular relationship stuff.
Aaron hates that I don’t say goodbye at the end of phone conversations. He deplores the smell of my armpits even though I’m pretty sure that at this point my BO is a medical condition that can’t be helped. He patiently tolerates my impatience and intolerance. He is flummoxed by my inability to replace that cap on anything, whether it’s the toothpaste or a bottle of Tylenol. He spends 15 minutes every night going through the house to lock the doors I’ve left open, turn off the lights I’ve left on, and line up the shoes I’ve kicked off in every room.
And guess what? He’s not perfect, either. He always keeps cruise control on the car. Sometimes, he says he’s going to take the garbage out but that really means that he’s going to set it near the door until the kitchen smells like expired yogurt and rotting vegetables. He won’t floss every day, even though he knows how important it is. He slaps my hand while I’m picking my nose, which is dangerous because my finger is in there and that could cause a nose bleed.
The point is this: you can get mad at someone with a brain tumor, even if you love them wildly and unconditionally and wake up every day in awe of the fact that they are living and breathing next to you.
All of these things are petty and stupid and absolutely amazing, because they mean that in spite of the insanity of the past 9 months, we are normal.