My husband just returned to work after 3-4 days home sick with a fever. I doted on him for the duration. I didn’t do it because I thought it was the wife’s role, but because it’s what I’d expect anyone to do if a person they loved was ill. I expect similar dedication from Jon when I’m not feeling well.
Copying many of the nursing habits my mom employed when my brother and I were sick growing up, I made him endless cups of tea: Echinacea, cold care, green tea with honey. I froze juice and made slushies for him. I brought him tissues, books, meals, anything he wanted. I took care of all the household chores, including the pets, doing everything that he and I usually split during a normal week. I even scraped the frost off his car this morning before he left for work.
The only thing I didn’t do that I really wanted to, and that might have given him extra comfort, was to cuddle him. I maintained some distance. He got kisses on the head, rubs on the neck, only those sorts of things. In fact, by the last two nights of his illness I had him sleeping in one of the guest beds, although it was still in our room (Jon’s currently using one of the guest rooms to refinish some chairs). His cold made him noisy even when he was asleep, and that noise was keeping his light-sleeping wife awake. I had given him the choice between our bed and the guest bed, and I’d sleep in whichever he didn’t pick.
I missed him, and I felt cruel, distant, and selfish. He only agreed on the latter, and he said it was selfish in a good way. He didn’t want me to get sick, and he knew even how impractical that would be. In 2010 the both of us came down with the stomach flu at the same time, to some disastrous dog-related consequences, and neither of us wanted a repeat.
Still, this whole experience has taught me how important touch is. We’ve both missed it a lot. I told Jon that the second he feels better he’s going to get cuddled nonstop. I never realized just how much of a comfort touching can be. I knew it on an intellectual level; the central romantic tension from one of my favorite shows and pie-baking inspiration “Pushing Daisies” revolved around that very fact. But it’s one thing to know it and another thing to really feel it.
It’s strange because I’ve spent much more time with Jonathan this week than I would during a normal week. In fact, we spent a lot more time together than we do sometimes on his days off that he fills with projects, because he felt so cruddy that he often didn’t want to do more than lie on the couch. Thus we spent a lot of time in conversation. Shouldn’t I have had my fill? But no, it just wasn’t the same.
I can’t wait until Jon really feels better. I think today might be the day, but he left so quickly for work I couldn’t get a full read off of him. Of course the main reason I want him to feel better is because I hated seeing him suffer so much. But I also can’t wait until I can cuddle him again.
*(The above image by Ohmega1982 is from freedigitalphotos.net).