Disclaimer– this post is a bit self absorbed with a smattering of dramatics.
I’ve always preferred nicknames, as my dad called me “Julie-belle” or “Jeweler,” my grandfather referred to me as “Jewles” with any variety of endings, and any close friends or family just followed suit. When I met Nicholas, he called me “Shug” for years (short for sugar, but looks better with an h) and sometime in the last few years started calling me “cookie.” Typically, I was only called my first name when I was in trouble or just being a huge pain in the arse, which is frequent in my world, but to this day, Nicholas has never called me “Julie.” He should have this summer….
See, life has become divided now into two massive chapters: “before I broke my foot” and “after.” This is where I know I’m being dramatic, but most people think of a broken bone and assume you’ll be casted and up and running in 6 weeks or so. Four broken bones in my right foot, however, meant 3 1/2 months of no weight on my foot, which obviously means no driving. Since we conveniently reside in a 3-story town house, this created quite the interesting summer—“The Summer of Servitude” as Nicholas likes to so gently put it.
After a week of crutches and being propped up on the patio all day on the main level of our best friends’ home, we came back to our townhouse at the tail end of our kitchen remodel. Every floor was covered in a thick layer of dust and insulation, and all of our kitchen and closet belongings were still in stacks in the living room. It was complete chaos, and I was on a knee scooter, leaving tracks on the hardwood floor through the layers of dirt and grime. Nicholas had to carry my scooter up to the third floor every night, and I followed slowly behind on my hands and knees to get up to bed–he’d leave my scooter by the bed so that I didn’t have to crawl to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I never thought I was needy until I realized how much I needed help to do the most basic things. I’d get up to bed and need a drink from the main level. I forgot to bring my computer up and needed to finish some coding. The battery is almost dead–can you get my charger downstairs? While you’re at it, can you just bring me my contacts case and a face towelettes? Actually, I’m feeling really old tonight–would you mind finding my anti aging cream in the bin under the sink? My glasses are across the room in the dresser drawer–can you bring me those, too? And if you don’t mind, I’d really sleep better if you’d fill the diffuser with water and some lavender oil. Seriously?? I had become a nightmare.
I won a trip to Charleston for the third week of June (2 weeks after said incident on the trampoline) and I knew that saying I wanted to go would mean definite work for Nicholas. Can you carry all the luggage? And push me in a wheelchair around town on uneven cobblestone streets? He insisted that we go–I’ve never so much as won a jelly bean contest, so I was ecstatic that he was up for it, but don’t take the effort for granted for a moment. It wasn’t a weekend get away for him; instead it was caregiving in another city, helping me up stairs in old restaurants with no elevator, and carting around a wheel chair and crutches so that I could experience my first “Winner’s Circle.”
I used to cook a lot–but now our kitchen was still only partially functional, and the filth was too bad to even attempt. But the thought of going down 2 1/2 flights of stairs on my rear to get out the front door on crutches and hobble across the street to Vickery’s was so exhausting, I was tired and sweating just thinking about it. Can we just order in? Or do you want to just bring me a bowl of cereal? Or just a vodka water is fine and I’ll go to bed.
And start over tomorrow…. scoot to the bathroom, crawl into the shower, sit on a stool because I couldn’t stand on one leg with fear of falling (and that happened a few times too) attempt to get partially ready before he had to leave for work so that he could carry my scooter back down the stairs to the couch where I’d set up shop for the day. He’d bring me everything I might need in the next few hours, and then thank his lucky stars he didn’t have to work from home and could catch a break from my requests.
But then he’d come home….my days were busy with phone calls and computer work, but I didn’t have any of the “good stuff” from work, like positive human interaction and changes of scenery, so I slowly became even more needy, if that’s possible.
I attempted to “pull my weight” by begging friends to come over and help clean and put our remodel back together, and then resorted to hiring people to do everything from grocery shopping to moving furniture, and loading the cabinets with china. I slowly went out of my mind with cabin fever, and was impossible to please, because after declaring I wanted to get out for the night, I’d start getting ready… and the effort to shower again, dry my hair and put on make up would create another sweating fit (I never realized how much extra sweat pain creates) and I’d decide I just wanted to stay home after all. Pain in the arse…that’s what I’ve been for months, in spite of my best efforts to try do be otherwise.
Every Uber ride to the Ortho, I’d be ecstatic to get some kind of “release,” but every appointment was “5 more weeks, no weight bearing, no driving. See you then.” Weeks turned into months, and Nicholas would still call “Babaloo! I’m home ‘Cookie’!” as he’d come up the stairs, reserving the angst of his day to see how I was.
He did the laundry…put it away, ran every errand, cooked or coordinated every meal, and provided me sanity when I thought I was about to cliff jump.
We’re creeping up on 13 years of marriage, and I realize it’s no small thing to have been married this long and say this has been the hardest summer we’ve had. I know we’re blessed. We have an amazing life that we’ve created together, and there are powers much bigger than me that have allowed us to thrive and grow together in ways we never could have imagined when we got engaged after a few weeks of dating.
I finally started walking 2 weeks ago with my grandfather’s mallard cane (it’s on the counter in the picture), and started driving last week; while I think about what a long summer it’s been for me, I realize that it’s been even longer for him. He jokes about his “Summer of Servitude” but that’s exactly what it’s been.
In two weeks, we’ll be cruising the Western Caribbean together to celebrate our anniversary, and while this damn boot will be an eyesore in pictures and continue to be the reason that only my left heels are getting worn and I feel a little less girly, it’s perfect timing to celebrate us and the end of a hard summer.
And he still calls me “Cookie,” and for that I’m grateful.