I can remember the cold garage floor beneath my bare feet, I was wearing my white terry cloth robe and I know for sure that I was furious.
What I can’t remember is just what had made me so mad.
I marched out into the garage and tore into Joe, a monologue I had prepared in the shower where my rage grew. I was sure he’d apologize and all would be better because clearly I was right and he was so very wrong.
That’s how I’d played it out in my mind but that’s not how it went.
He was thin from chemo and surgery but still buzzed around the garage cleaning the floor and wiping down his bar. He listened to my rant and then to my surprise, gave it right back to me.
Our fight escalated as he followed me back into the house and it seemed every bit of worry, fear and anger cancer had left on our hearts was pouring out of us in the rawest form.
I watched as Joe used more energy than he had in months to yell.
“I hate this, I hate you,” he screamed as he threw a fist into the pantry and launched a coffee mug up against the wall.
It shattered across the floor and coffee splashed onto the walls.
He stormed out the house and I sat on the floor in a puddle of my own guilt and hurt.
How could I start something with him over something so silly? How dare he talk to me like that when I’m sacrificing every day of my life to try and save his? How did we get here? Was that the cancer talking or really him? Who even are we anymore?
Marriage is hard.
When you add in the extreme stress of something like cancer it can seem nearly impossible.
We’d go out to eat and it was a sure argument. Joe loved sitting up against the bar and I loved a booth. One of us would cave into the others wants and slightly resent them for a few moments as we ordered our drinks.
I just wanted to sit face to face and talk, feel like he could see me, hear me, like I mattered.
Do you see me? Am I even here?
It could be as stupid as a coffee order, that can leave you feeling all alone. When the person you love screws up your Starbucks there’s this moment you’re sure they’ve never heard a single word you’ve ever said since the day they met you. How in the world can they know your soul when they don’t even know you like a skinny soy vanilla latte with no whip? I mean the nerve of it all.
I look back at our fight that day. The worst we’d ever had. We sat at the end of the driveway hours later apologizing and crying. Under the stars we felt just as small as the child sized chairs we had pulled out of the garage to sit on.
“Would you hate me if I told you it felt kinda good?” Joe asked me.
“What felt good?”
“To yell,” he said. “To punch something, to use that kind of force. I didn’t even know if my body still had it in it.”
I wasn’t mad and I didn’t hate him. I hated he had to feel any of this. I hated that we both did. I hated a normal marital fight was overshadowed by the emotions cancer had scarred us with.
I see you. I’d say to him in those moments. It was one of our favorite lines from everyone’s favorite Avatar, Jake Sully. We’d always say it knowing how true it was for us now. How vulnerable you are when someone really sees you.
What I’d give to spend the rest of my life sitting next to you at the bar. I’d sip on the wrong coffee order and hell, I’d even watch sports and not complain, too much.
Not a thing that you think matters really does.