When I got married and as every couple does, my husband and I promised to be there for each other ‘in sickness and in health’. Not in those words exactly, but I’m sure the Sanskrit rituals had that in there somewhere. In any case, it was a promise that we had both made to each other – to always be there for the other. I’ve always thought that the phrase ‘in sickness and in health’ sounded very idealistic…and almost romantic. Would it actually be that romantic if you had to look after a sick spouse when you had to get up early for work the next day? I wasn’t sure.
Last night wasn’t the greatest. I’ve always been a person who had occasional trouble sleeping, but last night’s insomnia was combined with a feeling of nausea and I was feeling very uncomfortable. I tossed about for hours struggling to find my peace and at the same time trying not to wake up my sleeping husband. Eventually, I woke up and got out of bed to find something to drink that would settle my stomach. I had just reached the dining room when a wave of nausea hit me. I grabbed a chair and sat down and called out to my husband. He woke up and came to me, got me a glass of salted buttermilk. I took the glass and told him to go back to sleep. I planned to drink it slowly and stay there until I felt better. He didn’t listen but stood next to me, massaging my shoulders and telling me in a soft voice that it would be fine in a few minutes. And it was.
As soon as I was feeling better, I started feeling guilty. Feeling guilty about waking him up and ruining his sleep when he had a long day the next day and I started apologizing. He told me not to be silly, held my hand and we walked back to the bedroom. As I was nodding off to sleep, I was thinking about the other person who has always taken care of me – my mother. Would I apologize to her for being sick? I probably wouldn’t – I just know that she loves me more than anything else and would find it ridiculous if I even entertained such a thought. So why should it be any different for another person who loves me? I know I would find it ridiculous if he apologized about being sick.
And as I thought about it, I felt my perspectives change. The phrase ‘in sickness and in health’ no longer sounds romantic to me, but rather brings over a sense of peace. A sense of peace in knowing that there is someone who would look after me without considering it a duty or responsibility, but simply because he loves and cares for me. The glass of salted buttermilk and a shoulder to sleep on that night meant much more to me than an expensive gift or an elaborately-planned romantic gesture ever would. With that thought on my mind, I peacefully drifted off to sleep.