“Emotional Muscle” Memory
It feels like I’m standing on the edge of a great precipice. And I’ve stood here before.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, my pup Kallie Kismet is scheduled for knee surgery tomorrow. (Coincidentally, date happens to fall on what would have been Ken’s and my fourth wedding anniversary–in Iowa). She’ll be in the hospital overnight, and when she comes home the following day will need a lot of TLC as she heals and regains strength in her legs over what I’m told is an eight-week recovery period.
I have worrier in my DNA and there are few things I’m better at. I’m sure my fretting has more to do with Ken than Kallie–in some ways. As with Kallie, Ken and I had to prepare for his majorly invasive surgery and a recovery period of unknown length when we went into the hospital for his hemipelvectomy in January 2010. And as the main caregiver, it was my responsibility to get things organized and make sure he was comfortable and had everything he wanted or needed. I never felt so singularly responsible or stressed in my life. Though I had plenty of offers for help–and accepted many of them–I was Ken’s preferred first responder for anything–even if I didn’t know to what I was supposed to respond. But even though he was my charge, I still relied on Ken for emotional support and encouragement–which he offered when he could.
During the night’s of Ken’s recovery I slept light and seldom, leaping out of bed from a cold, exhaustion to run into the living room to check on him. We had walkie talkie’s in play. He’d press a button and a hellish squawk would jut from the handset by the bed. It terrified me, and I grew to hate them. After he died, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them–they were useful relics that I felt adversarial attachment to. But they’d played in important role in that part of my life.
I know there are great differences between what Ken (a human being) went through and what Kallie (a dog) will go through, but what they have in common is that I was the keystone in Ken’s recovery, and I’ll be the keystone in Kallie’s. It was awesome and unnerving to feel like the one thing between Ken and…whatever the opposite of recovery is. And as a great fearer of the unknown, “what if’s” abounded in my brain.
Certainly not as grave, Kallie’s diagnosis isn’t cancer-related, and a complete recovery is anticipated. But the memories of being in this place linger with a pungent funk that only expelling out into the interwebs can help to assuage.
Loving Ken seemed to make undoable things doable. And I think that may still hold true.