Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Correct Usage of the Word Awesome

Sometimes I just need to return to something that is comfortable. Tonight it's Steely Dan music, starting with "Pretzel Logic" and going from there. I've heard the stuff a thousand times or so starting with tapes I played in a cheap knock-off Walman with terrible headphones as I walked from my house to Chris's. Once I got there, chances are we threw a football around or did something but then ended up in his basement listening to some more music, most of it familiar and thoroughly analyzed by the two of us. It was soothing, it was something I always knew how to feel about. It was a comfort and it still is.

I find myself returning to lots of things lately. I've written about my daughters here over the past week or so, talking about the things I learn from them, the things I'm trying to learn in order to be their father. I haven't written much about Stephanie in a while and I think it's time to return to that subject as thinking about her makes me feel warm and happy, serene and excited,  content with the world and expectant of everything that is coming my way.

Stephanie's story is hers to tell, but our story is something I'm sure she would entrust me to talk about. She all too often trusts me to speak and I don't hesitate to take her up on the offer. Telling all of our story is too much, and so on Valentine's Day I want to concentrate on just one small story that, for me, is the epitome of who Stephanie is and has been since I've known her.

It's the story of our daughter's ruptured appendix and this telling of it begins with me returning to the hospital from having gone home to tuck our younger daughter into bed and check on my brother who was watching her. I came back into the emergency room wing where Stephanie, Julia, and I had been for eight hours. Julia was only four and so very tiny in my memory. As I came in, Stephanie was with the doctor, behind the counter, looking at some sort of scan of Julia.

You have to understand that heretofore Stephanie had been someone who passed out in hospital waiting rooms. She wasn't the sort to make it into the depths of a hospital or to be able to look at scans of people who were sick and this was her first-born daughter. As I arrived, I saw that Stephanie was shaken but still there. She looked  relieved to see me, as though I would know something to do. I didn't and she had it all in hand anyway.

Shortly thereafter, Julia had a central line put in through her tiny arm down to her beating heart. I waited with Stephanie who glowed with fierce and almost frightening love for her child. I remember feeling it. Might sound crazy, but it was there like heat coming off a sunburn. She was alive with it. She cried, she paced, she sat waiting and all the while she burned with love. It was a thing that astounded me. I've always thought I loved our girls and I surely do, but this was beyond anything I had ever known.

They wheeled Julia out and as the anesthesia wore off she cried and whimpered. Stephanie was having some trouble holding herself together, but she nearly climbed onto the gurney with her girl and rode with her to the recovery room and on up to the room in which she would stay for the next few days. I knew that Julia would wake each day to find Stephanie there, that she would go to sleep each night knowing that Stephanie was there, and that she would be kept warm by that love I had felt as we waited for Julia to come back to us from the operating room.

I'm not a guy to say that my wife is awesome. It sounds trite. It is trite. Instead, I will say that now, six years after the fact, I am sitting alone typing these words and I still feel the awesome power of Stephanie's love for her first daughter. I feel it for her second daughter. And I feel it for me. Indeed, that love is awesome in that it is more powerful than anything I have felt before and because, truth to tell, it scares me just a little to know that someone can love so much and so completely.

Write on. And Happy Valentine's Day, Stephanie.