I didn’t mean for it to be the first “I love you.” I’d bitten it back multiple times in the past month, not wanting to say it too soon, but knowing it was true. He wasn’t there yet. He’s still at the “I really, really like you,” point.
This past weekend we went away together on a church retreat with his church. The weekend turned out to be a bit of a gong show. While we as a couple were fine, there were other external factors that made the weekend a bit of a challenge. Two of the women who are dear friends to my boyfriend were being a bit cold and distant. One was also being a right stroppy cow when she did interact with him. Both women insisted everything was fine. Add to that, that I woke up Sunday morning with five bites on my chest, and someone found a bed bug carcass in one of the other cabins. Delightful. So now the entire camp needed to do bed bug prevention when they got home as a precautionary measure. Other than that the weekend was lovely—snowshoeing on the lake, board games with friends, worship sessions and guest speakers. In my opinion, not enough time for contemplation, meditation, and prayer, but the importance of that is another blog post.
Once we got home from the weekend, my boyfriend came over and we spent some time enjoying not being around people—we talked some about the weekend, and even went out for dinner (which turned out to be disappointing). Shortly after midnight, it happened. Stomach flu. Not to me. Just to him. He probably caught it off of someone at the camp. He is in constant pain, and has all of the regular stomach flu symptoms. If it weren’t for the fact that its wrath occasionally lessens and he can ingest liquid, I’m sure we would have had to take him to the hospital by now for a saline drip.
So, for the past few days I’ve been taking care of him as he goes through this painful experience. He keeps on thanking me for taking care of him, but I ask you, isn’t that what any compassionate person would do? Isn’t that what a girlfriend should do? Thankfully, sickies don’t make me queasy. Somewhere along the line I learned to detach myself from the nastiness of sickness and see it in a somewhat more scientific and practical light. It is what it is. It’s part of the human experience. It happens to everyone at some point. It’s rather mean to be there for someone when they’re at their best, but leave them to struggle on their own when things slump. After all, the low times are when we need help the most. The low times are when we need people to care.
Last night, the hour was getting late. My boyfriend heard the alarm go off on his phone. He sent me home, citing that I would sleep much better in my own bed than on his couch. He was right, and so I rather reluctantly headed out. It’s not much fun to be alone with only your pain, and I didn’t want to leave him in that position. But he insisted. The time was running short, and I needed to get out the door in order to make the last bus. I gave him a quick hug and a kiss on the forehead. “I love you,” the words were a whisper, and I don’t even know if he heard them. I hadn’t been meaning to say them. They came of their own volition. I didn’t have time to stop and think about what I’d said, or figure out if he’d heard, so I just headed out the door. He didn’t even have time to say anything, and in all honesty, I preferred it that way.