I hesitate to say our crisis has passed. We aren't planning a funeral. This is good, but the recovery road is long and as I type, The Original Big Man is still in the ICU.
The family is made of strong stuff. The sisters, Big Man, and their mom have donned their cheerleading outfits with a resolve that doesn't seem to be waning.
It's been weird and interesting for me to observe Big Man in his role as son and physician. As I have watched the family hang on the doctor's every word, I have been struck by the position of power the doctors seem to be in. They have the ability to couch their language in such a way that can draw people to the conclusions they wish them to draw and in some instances, toy with their emotions. At one point, Big Man told me about medical school in Rochester. As a grunt student, he said he would go into room after room with this or that expert and listen to these doctors give families brilliant little mini-lectures on whatever the disease of the day was. As a student he learned some great science, but when the doctor left and he remained to do whatever medical students do the families would look stunned and baffled. He wondered why they didn't ask questions. Often, they didn't know where to start and worried about feeling stupid. It was there that he learned what it meant to be a meaningful communicator. Later on, he had a supervising physician in residency who was so perfect with patients. She knew how to talk and read between the lines of what wasn't said and draw out their concerns and explain without condescending and again, Big Man took notes. These experiences have colored his whole approach to talking with patients and their families.
Since my life with Big Man isn't about medicine, I can freely admit I haven't always appreciated what he does. I got to watch him in action and struggle to find a balance between son, interpreter for his family, and just his own natural interest in the medicine of a case that happens to be his father's. He's gone over how he would have handled things, and I can't begin to explain the nuances of what he would have done things differently. But I have seen a glimpse of why our little town has been fortunate to have him in their medical community. He is very good at what he does.
I am proud of how he has handled himself as a son who happens to be a physician. He hasn't been overbearing, but they are well aware that he's watching and that he's no slouch.
We don't often see our spouses in the action of their daily lives. I am not sure what I thought he was like and while I can't say I am surprised, I do know I felt pride.
But mostly, he was the kind of son his dad would want him to be- kind, funny when needed, compassionate towards his family and all the medical personnel, and loyal to his tribe.
As for me, I felt a renewed sense of gratitude for my guy and who he is as a person. When you are young, love goggles can sometimes make things seem rosey. Later, the grit of daily life can cast shadows. But moments of clarity abound in any relationship...if you are willing to see them.
I looked. And it will come as no surprise that I liked what I saw.