On Being MARVEL-us


Yesterday I got some of the final Christmas things stashed in their proper place in the garage beams. I figured it was a proper way to welcome June. And also, by I, I mean friends who are stronger than me, but I pointed and supervised like a champ.

This is what recovery looks like. Coming back online, back to life. Surging ahead and then slowing down. Working but resting. Inhaling but also exhaling. It’s tricky business, catching up on things that have had a four-month pause. Making new choices about how to use new time. Paying attention without being a hypochondriac. I mean, seriously, if I read the side-effects-call-your-doctor-if list long enough, I start feeling all the side effects of Jason’s medications.

It’s living in the middle of the both-and as life returns to normal, but an entirely new normal. A good normal, don’t get me wrong. Just a new one. Instead of dancing in the driveway, which he still doesn’t remember, we take an occasional spin around the living room. And we’ve instituted a new personal holiday that precedes Memorial Day by one week: We call it life-vest-no-more-day, basically a celebration of bra removal everywhere. Wait, that sounds awkward. Oh yes, that’s because life vests ARE awkward, and watching Jason take his off after three months of having it strapped to his chest was like watching him embrace the freedom that us ladies taste when we get to remove THE thing that truly lets us know our day is done and we can let our hair – and, umm, other things – down. Also, NO ARITHMEAS in the past three months. Cue happy dance.

Jason’s been back at his McSmarty-ness, logging hours at the library and hitting the books with a new love and fierceness – when he started this PhD program, we both knew he was tapping into a deeper, truer version of himself. He’s a teacher at heart, always has been, and soon he’ll have the degree that confirms it. In fact, as he was waking up from sedation and taking it all in, one of the first things he talked about was getting back into the classroom -that having received his breath back, he wanted to spend them in developing the next generation.

At the same time, we are still meeting new ‘ologists as explorations and tests continue. Jason has officially been deemed a ‘medical marvel’ as doctors review his charts and we review their eyebrows as they inch up into a state of surprise. There is great comfort in hearing things like “your test results are extraordinarily boring”, but also some confusion surrounding my guy’s body and heart and why it stopped fifteen Fridays ago.

So some days the road feels like this


And other days like this


It’s not the first time we’ve heard how MARVEL-us we are … in fact, in some ways you could say we’ve been pre-conditioned to live without answers to everything.
But since science can’t answer why he woke up, I won’t be surprised if it also can’t answer why it first happened. Because we’re only the boss of little bits. So again with the being tricky …

And so we put away the Christmas decorations in June. We open and sort the mail that came in three months ago. We call doctors with questions and we remember who the Great Physician is. We work and make choices again. We pay the medical bills with a deep sigh of thanks … both to the doctors and to the givers that have made check-writing a thing of celebration. We have movie marathon days. We live in the knowledge that we’re not the boss of it all. And we embrace this most holy of truths:


– J.R.R. Tolkien as Bilbo Baggins

Also, Bilbo said that on his 111th birthday. Amen to the long MARVEL-us road.


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