Hey, guess what? I found a new thing to get all anxious and obsessed over. My husband’s health.
Okay, so this is not an entirely new thing. From the very start of our relationship together, and revelling in the potential of the future happiness that lay out before us, I started to freak out. You know those movies where the oblivious protagonists are blissfully happy together and unaware of the giant shitstorm that is about to land on them and fuck their lives mightily from on high? That. That’s what I’m on about.
G., being the kind of person who seems to be able to tolerate a whole load of “me”, did not negate my worries or feelings, but instead spoke to me in the kind of language I could understand.
“We’re not in that kind of movie,” he explained, “we’re in more of a farcical romantic comedy. So long as we have blue pillowcases(*) the worst that will happen will be embarrassing slapstick humour.”
(* I don’t know why, but of course since then, blue pillowcases have taken on a huge superstitious significance and one of us may not travel without one.)
I’m paraphrasing a little because I can’t remember his exact phrasing, but there you go with the idea of it.
It hasn’t completely stopped me, however, from visualising his death – usually in a car crash when distracted on a busy – probably rain-slippery – motorway, chewing on the side of his finger and contemplating politics as he is wont to do. But always at a time when I’ve developed an expectation of some kind around our future.
Men plan and Gods laugh and all of that.
Anyway, since his tooth extraction of about four weeks ago, healing has not been proceeding as expected and a part of my brain is spiralling out with worry that the slow healing is indicative of some rare underlying condition that will make him dead in the next few months. And then what will all this work and planning and putting things off and living dutiful lives have been for?
Sometimes life really does feel like a board game of sorts. No, not that stupid “Game of Life” one. Just … in a long strategic game, you can make all the plans you like and expect they’ll come to fruition according to the mechanics of the game, but you can never account for the actions of other players and NPCs and sometimes seemingly rash actions from them will sweep away all your hard-earned, built-up lot in the game. And worse than just sweeping away your resources, it will scupper your whole intricate, slowly building plan.
It can feel like you’re better off to be rash yourself. It can feel like it’s better to gamble – because at least then if you lose, you’re not as emotionally invested. It was just a quick-play, just an experiment. Now you can do more of the same, and odds are something will work out, and if it doesn’t, well … at least you had fun along the way.
But I’m a consummate planner. It’s how I like to play – at games and at life. The quick gamble style for me keeps me detached – for better, but also for worse. I’m an all-in, two feet, up to my neck kind of person. And I like being that way. The rewards feel infinite when you invest yourself fully in the life you’re building.
But the defeats are crushing and personal.
And it feels scary at the moment, it feels like we’re far far out on limbs of expectation, so close on so very many fronts of our lives to harvesting the fruit of many years of planning. And the loss of any of them at this point feels potentially devastating.
It’s not a trade; life doesn’t work like that. I don’t get to choose G.’s book success over lifelong health or vice-versa. But human psychology is kinda dumb and there’s definitely a default part of my brain that operates on that kind of logic. It feels like “too much” right now, too much potentially good stuff, so in “payment” something’s going to have to give. It’s the only thing that fits the narrative – so says that fretful part of my brain.
But real-life mechanics are far more broken than any game you might play. Karma is a lie we tell ourselves to feel more comfortable with the immediate sight of good things seeming to happen to bad people.
Fundamentally, life is not fair. But maybe that could work in our favour for a while too. Maybe we will be allowed to have it all.