Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Alive Day

Four days, four posts! I will eventually slow down, but it's hard to resist the urge to write. Especially when I know full well I will someday start to neglect my blog.

I made someone cry today.

That isn't, contrary to popular belief, a common occurrence for me. I tend to be a sympathizer - if you cry, I'll cry. If you vomit, I'll vomit. That sort of thing. I'm not a fan of either.

I'm volunteering at the USO today, as I do every week. I put in a few hours every week outside the office, but one day I spend at the desk, fielding questions and handling the more mundane tasks of mail sorting and phone answering. There are two people here who aren't volunteers - our director and our program manager.
The PM and I were brainstorming options for an event we've got in the works, and from there we got off on a tangent about whales in the Boston Harbor. I mentioned how Brian and I had already decided when and how we were going to renew our vows (although we haven't been married fully four years yet) and the PM wondered what the appropriate time for a vow renewal was.

We're doing it on our tenth anniversary, I told her, because that will also be Brian's twelfth Alive Day, and so it's a big day.

Enter waterworks. You got married on his Alive Day? she exclaimed. Oh, I'm going to cry.

It's not a big deal for Brian and I. It simply made the most sense, for a lot of reasons.
1. IED = TBI = crap memory. Expecting him to remember our wedding anniversary is just cruel. By scheduling our wedding on top of a day everyone around him will be talking about, he won't be able to forget.
2. I don't really care about Hallmark holidays. Birthdays and Anniversaries only function (once you're past 25 at least) to help mark time. I don't feel like Valentines Day or our wedding anniversary should be an occassion for dread for my poor husband. By getting married on his Alive Day, we sidestep the whole issue. We have a discussion every year about whether he wants to have an Alive Day party or go out to a quiet dinner with his wife. Or neither. Or both! And then I make the plans and we call it good.
3. Asshole should have died. No, really. If you're in a helicopter in a war zone with your foot detached from your body and sitting in your lap while you're buckled into a stretcher and immune to morpheine? And shortly thereafter a blood clot causes your lung to collapse? Waking up on a respirator with a chest tube in does not sound like a firm grasp on life. And then you contract MRSA in the bone of what's left of your leg? People have died from less. More than 20 surgeries later, he's alive and kicking, but there was more than one day in which his continued existence was in doubt. Asshole should have died. And he didn't. June 8th, 2006, is the luckiest day of his life, because it's the day he cheated death. Hell yes we're going to have a party to celebrate it. And the biggest party we could imagine was our wedding.

It all boils down to one single decision Brian made five and a half years ago. He looked down at the baseball-like stitching on his skin on his calf where the rest of his leg was supposed to be, and he knew he had two options in his life: he could cry about it, or he could laugh about it.
Brian chose to laugh. I honored his decision by making the same: I chose to laugh, too.
It means some pretty heinous things happen in our house in the name of amputee humor. But it also means that things like Brian's Alive Day don't become solemn occassions. We take his old prosthetic sockets and fill them with booze and toast to his good health.
At some point during the day, I will take him aside and whisper to him the same thing I said when we raised our champagne flutes on his second Alive Day. Thank you for not coming home in a box.

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