Sometimes You Need to Catch Your Breath

My husband suffered from a non-pressure ulcer near his ankle from 2005 to 2007. If you have ever dealt with a leg or foot ulcer, that is, an open sore that stubbornly refuses to heal, you know the frustration. He was in pain for two years. He went to the Wound Care Clinic every week. The thing followed a pattern. It would take months to almost get to the point of closing, then it would open again. Or an infection would occur.

He was also working full time. He refused to stay home and rest. I often thought that if it were someone else, they would have called in sick. He would groan in pain at night, and yet show up for work the next day. He was more afraid of not supporting his family than the pain. He and his brother were raised by their single mother after their dad died. He knew poverty.

For two years, we didn’t go anywhere for vacation. He was too sick to do anything extra. I was often in tears as well. There was really nothing I could do to help him, aside from praying and taking care of the home. I was also working full time and taking my oldest daughter to college every day. Our other two kids were in high school.

The summer of 2007, I decided that if I couldn’t get away, I should at least attend concerts and plays with one of the kids. My husband had no interest in going, understandably. But I started buying tickets to Circle Theatre and concerts and taking one or more of the kids with me. It gave us something to look forward to, a mini vacation for the mind so to speak. And we were running on empty.

Toward the end of that summer, I read a column by one of our local newspaper reporters. In the column he commiserated with people about their “crummy vacations.” Anger burned within me. How could he be complaining and inviting others to complain about “crummy vacations?” How about those of us with no vacations?

I struggled with envy and my anger for a few weeks. I condemned myself for my lack of contentment. Then it occurred to me that maybe this wasn’t just a lack of contentment. Maybe it was a sign of a deep need. Maybe we needed to catch our breath.

So I began to look on the internet at vacation rentals. Maybe we could book one for a long weekend. We really could hardly afford it. My son was starting college that fall and my older daughter was also in college. I found a place in Grand Haven called Hang Your Hat, which also allowed us to take our dog, Daisy, with us. I looked at my children’s school schedule and they all had one weekend with a Monday off. I booked the rental for that weekend.

When I walked into Hang Your Hat, I knew I had done the right thing. The sun shone through the windows. The breeze from Lake Michigan wafted through the house. Hang Your Hat was on a street behind the main tourist area in Grand Haven. We could walk to see the musical fountain on Lake Michigan or walk through the shops on Washington Street. I sat on the porch and read a book. We played Monopoly. My husband, whose ulcer had finally healed up, made pancakes and bacon for breakfast.

Sometimes we just need to catch our breath.