relationship

Strange How One of the Best Talks Can Come at 4:30 a.m. in an Emergency Room

Strange how, in the course of our busy lives, one of the best talks can come at 4:30 a.m. in an emergency room with machines beeping and nurses conversing in the hall.

3:12 a.m. My husband stands specter-like beside our bed, shocking me awake with, “I need to go to the hospital.”

The hospital (where our daughter was born) is a three-minute drive from our home, so I drive.

3:14 a.m. At the emergency room, my husband is a man experiencing chest pain; there is no wait.

3:18 a.m. Once we’re in the examining room a nurse–handsome, calm, good-natured–asks, “Pain level from one to ten?”

“Ten.”

Tests.

Embarrassment as a huge team of student doctors surrounds my husband’s bed with questions and conjecturing.

More tests.

My husband is wise and smart; he tells excellent stories; and, so far, he is not dying.

4:30 a.m. Morphine drip. My husband relaxes into its relief and enchantment while I, seated on a chair with my head resting on his bed’s side rail, float in a woken-in-the-middle of the night half-dream

We nerd out on Game of Thrones.

“How could Maester Aemon have access to milk of the poppies in Castle Black?”

“George R. R. Martin is a genius.”

Then…

“Remember when we first met in the writers’ workshop at UCI?”

“You used to wear a cowboy hat.”

“You were good at stroking the instructor’s ego.”

In the daily crush of earning a living, raising a family, and Keeping It Together, we rarely have the time–or take the time–to say how proud we are of one another, which makes me feel all the more grateful for what my husband says next.

“I’m proud of you for pursuing your writing dream,” he says, “You’re doing everything right. You will get there. There’s just one more important thing you have to do…” This is where my husband, master storyteller that he is, closes his eyes for effect and employs his trademark dramatic pause. At last, he says, “Don’t quit.”

I look at him and love him and memorize this moment. And I commit his words to memory.

Don’t quit.

— Eve Messenger

P.S. My husband is fine.