It was a routine operation, so they said and then followed it by lots of legal-ese but the bottom line is, the peaks and troughs in my life are gone. The things I considered routine all disappeared with the cut of the surgeon’s knife. Waking up with the musky aroma of my husband next to me; taking up too much space, snoring quietly. I would then nudge him gently to wake him. We would talk about our day ahead, argue about who was going to dip their toes into the cold air first, who’s turn it was for breakfast. I usually won and I would sink back into the pillows listening to him pad down the hallway to the kitchen.
The tinny sounds of spoons on cups would be replaced by clatters as bowls and plates were brought forth, all our crockery had chips in from Séan’s hamfistedness. I loved him for it. Each time I went to find a pair of tweezers that were buckled out of shape, forks and knives used as screwdrivers, screwdrivers used as hammers. For the twenty-five years we have been married I have mended or replaced all the tools over and over again. I bought some pink secateurs so he wouldn’t use them but eventually, I found them with gouges out of the blades – they had been used for cutting wire. And the wire cutters, well they had been used to hold the aerial in place at the back of the television and are probably still there.
Séan would sometimes come down and drag me out of bed if I had a vital meeting but usually he would bring breakfast down to the bedroom and we would perch on the bed eating our porridge and chat some more, shall we paint the hallway, bottom the front room, when was the nurseryman coming with the trees, did the dog take his worming tablet. The usual, the routine, the monotonous. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Those precious minutes together first thing, on our own before the world invaded; kids jumping all over us, jobs to go to, lunches to prepare, meetings to pitch, soccer training, friends to visit, neighbours to check on, families to ring. That reminds me I must ring Séan’s mother she will be devastated, her firstborn, her eldest son, gone at only forty-seven, what’s routine about that.
The doctor has returned and is giving me more information but still reiterating that it was a routine operation. I have a sarcastic retort that for now is being held in but I swear if he says routine one more time. Séan would’ve stopped me, I would give him my acid retorts, the ones I would say if I had more gumption or less sensitivity. He held me in check. He held me.
Oh Séan why did they have to mess up your routine operation. Why are you dead? I need you to help me organise your funeral, I need you to tell your mother. I need your arms around me when I tell the children. I need you. Nothing will ever be mundane again, no comforting cooking together you chopping, while I stir. Everyone said we were two halves of the same coin, well I feel half a person, we slotted together so well.
I loved our boring, routine wishy-washy life and now I am going to have to do it by myself. When we said till death do us part I thought it would be when we both had plastic hips and knees and hearing aids, I thought it would be forty years from now. Did you know how much I loved our humdrum existence, we could chat for hours about nothing, we laughed together, we cried together, you laughed when I cried at movies and I laughed when you cried at reality shows on t.v.
The doctor arrives again to explain the procedure for your body and again he starts with the “it was a routine operation. “
I am sorry Séan, I know he is only human but I reply, “routine? So all your patients die?” and I walked out into the Spring sunshine to the car and bawled.