Have you ever been involved in a genuine emergency? One where you have no idea whatsoever how to help the person? It's pretty scary.
A few years ago the house hunk and I were shopping in WalMart on a rainy vacation morning. We were in a town that was eight hours from where we lived. He held up a shirt for my inspection. "What about this one?" I was flipping through the shirts on another rack. When I turned to face him, he was falling right between two circular racks of clothes.
My first thought was that he had tripped. I rushed around the rack out into the main aisle to find him lying on the floor in a full grand mal seizure, obviously is respiratory distress, turning red. His tongue was blocking his airway. I remember dropping to my knees and screaming, "Help! Somebody help me!"
I give the WalMart in Olean, New York full marks for incredible service. Their staff was very well trained. An ambulance was summoned. And while we waited, the manager stayed with us. Staff arrived from all over the store and stood in a circle around us with their backs turned blocking us from sight so that we had privacy.
I had no idea what to do for him, but clearly his breathing was getting critical. I turned him on his side and just held him there so he wouldn't roll on his back. Immediately, his breathing eased. The doctors later told us that one simple move had likely saved his life. But what if I had not had the courage to do that? No one else was willing to touch him. No matter how fast the ambulance arrived, it would have been too late.
After the immediate crisis was over, there were many things to deal with. One of those things was the loss of security on my part. I've talked to many other spousal units out there. Once something traumatic happens to a spouse, the partner loses that security that we take for granted... that security that when the spouse walks out the door, they'll come back. Now that is a thing of the past because now I know how quickly that traumatic event can take him away. What would happen if he had a seizure taking out the trash? How long would I wait before I went to see why he was taking so long? No one knows who he is or which apartment is ours. Would anyone summon an ambulance in time?
So each time he walks out of sight, it's an act of faith now that he will come back. It doesn't matter where he goes. It could be just down our short hallway to check the mail. It could be a trip to the grocery store. It doesn't really matter. Because the fact is as his spouse, I have to let him go. I can't wrap him in cotton wool or smother him with concern. No one can live like that. But somewhere in the back of my mind the thought is always there. Such is life.