We're at that stage--The Sweet Boy and I--the "this is getting serious" stage that occurs between months 4 and 7, and looks roughly like a train wreck in slow motion, if that train wreck were comprised of long drives and sitting in the car in the middle of nowhere and drinking bottles of red wine from blue plastic cups. You know this time--when the stakes get high suddenly, very suddenly, and the buy-in suddenly looms. The fish-or-cut-bait time.
To be fair, The Sweet Boy and I have been at this point off and on for a long time, in some ways since the beginning. This is because the immediate stakes have been so high for both of us. Me, I'm a soon to be divorced mother-of-three, someone who missed feeling loved, important, wanted. The stakes for me were initially all about that feeling wanted business--that's what I ended up finding The Sweet Boy for initially. But then he grew on me, if that growing on me was him hitting me on the head with a two-by-four. Our first date started with dinner and ended with a five hour conversation at the beach. It was amazing.
At the time, though, I denied all amazingness. This was just one date, I told myself. And it wasn't even really amazing, you know.
I know. People have been put to death for smaller treasons, but there it is. Utter denial. Pure and simple.
To be fair, he was in utter denial as well. He told me, on our drive over to the beach that night, I can't be a father to three kids right now. You know that, right?
To which I replied, I don't want you to be. Yes, the denial was thick on both sides.
We were--are--were--are--so wrong for each other on paper. He's conservative. I am not. He's going to seminary to be a chaplain. I struggle with religion like a four-legged fish trying to evolve. I'm getting divorced. He has one leg.
Yes, fan base. That was not a typo. The Sweet Boy has one leg. One. I know all of you are right at this moment scratching your heads and thinking "what the holy fuck, TM? You've held out on this info for how long?" (Among these reactions are two slightly different ones--Grim is likely thinking "how could you not have milked this dramatic potential on the blog for months now?" while Freak is likely thinking "how could you not have told us about amputee sex* on the blog for months now?").
This is the story: The Sweet Boy was in the Navy, one of the elite in a certain group, and was a boy-boy. You know the type: devilishly good looking, big wide smile, flirty and gentlemanly at the same time. He had a fast--exceedingly fast--motorcycle and rode it everywhere. And then he did what many boys on motorcycles do: he wrecked.
The Sweet Boy, though, is a person of some extremes. For example, he was a top wrestler in the state, a top sailor in his program. So his accident could be no simple accident. In the early morning, in the spring of 2000, he hit a guardrail going 60 mph. His right leg was shorn off at the knee, and his right arm was, for all intents and purposes, taken off as well (a few tendons were left attached).
He was, luckily, found moments later and an ambulance was called. But at the scene, he was declared dead. My understanding is that they put him in the ambulance and continued working on him, but considered that he was a lost cause.
Somewhere between the accident site and the hospital, they found a pulse.
He had lost a lot of blood, and so at the hospital, one of the first things they did was pump him full of 30 units. A side effect of losing this much blood, though, is the body's inability to take the new blood in. His body swelled, his organs crushed from the presure inside. The doctors cut slits in his arms, and the pressure was so great, that it split the tissue deep, damaging muscle and nerve. This, though, was the least of their worries. He had a closed head injury, was barely responsive.
They reattached his leg and arm--he lost two fingers on his right hand, but those the doctors didn't worry about. His leg, though, was too damaged, and a few days later, they had to amputate it at the knee. Several days after that, the tissue between the knee and the hip was dying, and they made the decision to amputate at the hip. The arm was saved--with titanium rods and many surgeries.
The Sweet Boy was in a coma for 4 months, and was in some kind of hospital setting for something like a year. He has severe nerve damage to his right arm (can't feel anything below his elbow, more or less), and nerve damage to his left hand (can't feel much of anything). He is smart and funny, but has memory loss at times--which results in a fogginess that is apparent here and there. And he wears a prosthetic leg.
This is the guy who picked me up on a date, sight unseen, put me in a car, and had me comfortable, relaxed and laughing within 10 minutes (that is no small feat). The guy who told me the difference between "affect" and "effect" within 15 minutes (I was complaining about my students at the time). This is the guy who, walked painfully around the car to open the door for me, held his arm out to escort me into the restaurant. This is the guy who, when the diners looked at him from their plates of pasta and salad, google-eyed as we walked in, 30 minutes into our first date, I felt a rush of angry protectiveness. Fuck them, I thought. Fuck them all. ,
This, fan base, is the man I fell in love with.
And now here we are. Six months in. The make or break stage. He's met the kids and is alternatively smitten with, and terrified of, them. On alternating weekends, we cook together (or I cook complicated meals, like pork chops stuffed with apples and gorgonzola, while he offers help, pours wine, kisses my nose). My exam weekend, he took care of me, brought me cups of coffee and tea, cooked me pasta with cheese sauce, listened to me while I cried and carried on. And depsite all reasonableness, I love him. Despite all protocol, all logic, all wisdom, I love him. Despite the fact that his body is breakable--broken even--that he sometimes falls and needs help writing checks and remembering days--I love him. It's suddenly so much more than just his leg or his body or his anything.
I don't know what I'm doing, I think often. I don't know what I'm doing. But I'm doing it anyway.
*apparently, you get out of the whole "no sex before marriage" thing if you're one-legged. At least in the Christian church. No, don't ask.