We’re on the plane and there’s turbulence. I hate turbulence so I’m squeezing his freckled, red-haired leg. Squeezing it hard. Getting my short, bitten-off fingernails in there, too. He doesn’t flinch. He just takes his big, beefy hand and covers mine with it.
I am lucky to get what I need. This type of unflinching love.
I get the whole of him when I’m frustrated or sad. Or feeling bad about myself. Or scared.
Hairy like a bear, covering me, making all of me feel warm and safe. Protected.
I had cancer once. A few years ago. I don’t have it anymore. But when I did, and I was going through treatment that made me lose my hair and part of my right breast, he was my human blanket. My blanket that not only kept me warm but nourished me with whatever my chemo filled body craved. Little turkey meatballs, plain pieces of chicken dipped in barbecue sauce, mango smoothies.
After the breast cancer was diagnosed, and my year-long chemo had started, I asked him what his biggest fear had been. His biggest fear in the space between diagnosis and what the immediate future held.
It was that I would die.
I was 50 years old and we had been married for almost 10 years. A second marriage for both of us that we knew we had gotten right.
I think about his answer. I think about him being scared. I think about the aloneness he must have felt in not wanting to burden me with his fear. And my heart breaks.
My hands aren’t big and beefy. And I am much smaller than him in stature. But he knows now that my love is unflinching too.