"Your call is very important to us. Please hold, and a representative will be with you shortly." These are the words I hear over and over again—the words of the calls I have to make day in and day out, just to make life work. After the long hold time, when that representative finally comes on the line, they usually say they have to transfer me to someone else. Then I have to hold again. Again, another person finally comes on the line. I have to explain my issue all over again. They put me on hold. Then they disconnect me. Then I start the process again. They always tell me how important my call is to them. They never show me how important I am to them.
I'm currently on disability after working for many years through 20 years of recurrent tongue cancers. There's constant navigation of the health insurance system, the health care system, social security, waivers of premiums on life insurance policies, and all the normal things that people have to tend to even when they aren't sick. I've replaced my paying job with a new job—the job of handling my affairs.
It's exhausting even for healthy people. I just got handed a double whammy. I've recently had to take over the affairs of my elderly parents. This meant that more phone calls had to happen. Each phone call is a lesson in patience and resiliency as I navigate the system. Patience so that I remain calm while speaking to one uncaring idiot after another so as not to raise my blood pressure and make my illness even worse. Resilience so that each time I speak through the tongue pain to explain, yet again, why I'm calling and what I need, I can bounce back and make the next necessary call. I try to do as much as I can online, but sometimes, you just have to speak with a real human being. By the end of each day, it's sometimes all I can do to breathe deep breaths and stop talking to friends and family I love, to give my tongue a needed rest.
I've been married to the same man for 35 years. We've lived through all the oral cancers, and we keep chugging along. We've lived through not one, but two financial crises, and we keep chugging along. We've lived through my own and other family members' mental illnesses, and we keep chugging along. Every day, my husband goes to work to support us, and every day he comes home to me. But his support is so much more than financial.
When I've taken so many drugs I can't think clearly, he thinks for me. When blood is gushing from my mouth, and we have to make a trip to the emergency room, he drives me there. When another malignancy rears its ugly head and sends me straight to the operating room, he's the one who waits hours on end for me to awaken in the recovery room, and when I finally get a reprieve, he's the one that patiently watches over me every time I have to wean off the drugs and go through yet another withdrawal. He's the one who cleans up after the messes I make coming out of any number of openings in my body. This man, he keeps coming home to me. Unlike the company that tells me my call is important to them, he shows me every day how important I am to him.
And when he comes home, that's when boring becomes beautiful. Lately, his favorite thing to do is to just turn off the TV and have "peace and quiet." It's a world of boring bliss for us. When he gets home, we shut the world out. We play with our dogs, sometimes we talk, but often we just sit together in the same room keeping each other company in euphoric silence. We go to bed stupid early and we wake up next to each other. We share in each other's love before we face whatever it is the world wants to bring us that day.
Of course, the world is not always cruel and uncaring. I'm grateful that there are days filled with the joy of a stranger who does something nice, a family member who calls to say hello or a friend who just lets me know they're thinking of me. But those are various days. I never know from one day to the next what I'll get in my crackerjack box. Will I get the sparkling ring or the box they forgot to put the toy in?
What I do know, is that every day, every single day, my husband comes home to me. He arrives with a kiss and listens to me give him the synopsis of the days' activities. I listen to his lowdown, as well. To many, our lives may look boring. It may seem that we make no plans, do no activities, and have no social life.
Before I met my husband, I dated lots of guys. I went on exciting adventures, rode in fancy cars, ate at expensive restaurants and received lovely compliments. What I didn't have was a person to stand up next to me and support me, be my champion through whatever life threw at me. What I didn't have was someone to sit in silence with me and still understand every unspoken word I said. I can tell you that within the walls of our home, there's an abundance of love and peace. It's a safe place where we share that love and peace with each other. We share it year after year. It's steady. It's calming, and it's the most romantic experience I've ever had. To some, it may seem boring. To me, it's beautiful.