The Christmas tree lights are out. Every single one. They had flickered a few times as I went to plug them in but now not a one shines. The toilets are dirty and there are dishes in the sink. I eat dinner alone with my two-year old and four-month old. These are all things that my husband normally would help with but I’m learning to be patient. He does his best but there’s only so much energy one has.
Derek works hard. He leaves around 6:30 AM every day and typically returns around 6:00 PM. Sometimes earlier, sometimes much later. He’s supposed to work 8 hour days but surgery is often something that can’t wait. A ruptured spleen, appendicitis, or bowel obstruction cannot wait. Patients’ lives or livelihoods are often at stake and he can help them. This is the nature of working in healthcare. And this is the nature of my husband; caring, hard-working, empathetic, and always willing to put in the extra time. Did I mention he is also a member of the National Guard and drills one weekend out of the month?
Sometimes I get mad at it all. All these people, desperate for help and they get my husbands attention instead of me. I am a stay at home mom, which I love and cherish, but sometimes it just gets lonely. Somewhere long ago in our relationship the line where Derek ended and Ashley began blurred together. We are one and I cannot separate myself from him now. Sometimes I find this frustrating. Where did independent and self-asserting Ashley go? But really, I love it. I love that I share so much with this man and that I know what he’s thinking before he speaks. I know all his stories and when he’s going to laugh or when he will cry.
However, it makes his absence all the more painful. Out of this pain I have come to the realization that my role right now is to support. I am the cornerstone of my family and defender of this house. It’s a small portion of the world to defend but it’s my portion. I’m extremely proud of what Derek does and will unfailingly support him in his endeavors.
I once read a bumper sticker that said, “I’d rather be here now.” I am here in the presence of my imperfect family and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.