I did this to my wife for eight years and today I am filled with regret
We had a baby! A little baby boy who finally arrived in our lives after nine long months of waiting. I was still exhilarated with the way his little hand had wrapped around my finger. But the joy was short lived. As we waited to get back home after the delivery, we were jolted with unknown complications my wife had developed; a blood disorder that threatened to take her life away.
I had the baby in one hand and my other hand outstretched holding my wife’s. I was dumbfounded and wrecked as she was wheeled away for scans and tests. My happiness and my new family life turned upside-down in the span of a few short hours. I was forced to be functional even as this unexpected shock hit us.
My wife is my rock, but I had to stand strong without her. I had to stand strong for her. All of it felt completely out of place.
We have all lived with this moronic assumption that gadgets and social media bring people closer, but I have seen it wreck face to face interactions even in the most important relationship of my life. Thanks to my work and my gadgets, I had spared no time for my wife. It took a jolt to realise her importance in my life – a jolt that I don’t even wish upon my worst enemy.
My wife and I have known each other for over eight years. It started off as friendship, then love, and finally marriage. On the surface, it seemed like we were progressing, but the sad truth was how we had slipped into a slow degeneration. We stopped interacting and lacked time for each other. No, no. I stopped interacting and I lacked time for her.
I have always been someone who is not socially adept, and speaks less. And she is the complete opposite. When I returned from work, I spent more time on the laptop and mobile phone. She would be so upset about how we had drifted apart. But I mostly dismissed these notions, believing that couples must forego romance for practicality as marriages progress. I was so wrong.
A year ago, we moved to the United States for work. With no friends or family around us, we only had each other. It brought us closer. For the first time in eight years, I was beginning to realise how much I had missed out on. I had such a wonderful partner. My best friend was at home, and I had looked everywhere for emotional support when the chips were down. If only I had put that laptop or phone aside and spoken to her, I wouldn’t have greyed so early.
The arrival of the baby brought us closer still. I was rediscovering my love for her. And I wanted to make up for seven years of neglect. That is when it struck like a lightning. Our moments of loving togetherness suddenly seemed like they would disappear forever.
I just wish… I just wish I had switched off that phone while she was talking to me, turned off that cricket match. I wish I hadn’t replied to that office email late at night and listened to her talk about how her day instead. I could’ve even stayed up long enough to keep her company while she cleaned up the kitchen. I should’ve held back my hunger so I could dine with her.
What wouldn’t I do to get back every minute that I didn’t get to spend with her?
You always regret everything in hindsight. I couldn’t get anything back. As my wife was being wheeled back into yet another room in the hospital, the doctor wore a grim expression. My face was flushed, heart thumping. The doctor told us that the situation was serious… but curable. Relief rushed over me in a huge wave. But I was still scared. I was still bloody terrified of losing the most wonderful woman in my life.
That’s when I decided – I don’t care about what happens; I won’t let the woman of my life go away, at any cost. I sat down next to my wife with tears in my eyes. And I told her,
“We are going to fight this out. We have to see him grow and walk into the sunset together”.
She had never seen me cry, before now. Her eyes welled up too, but she wouldn’t show it. She knew it would break me.
I was fighting tears, but I couldn’t. Here is the love of my life, who has almost left me. Here is my son, who might never see the most amazing woman of his life.
Right now, she is undergoing a long and painful treatment. I sit beside her for hours while she gets her IVs done. I don’t flinch. It doesn’t seem to bore me. I hate remembering the past, how I couldn’t even sit for 10 minutes just to talk to her. I don’t think I can ever make it up to her, but I’m trying to be a better husband.
I’m away from work, but it’s not occupying my mind. I don’t bother to check my emails. In the past, I wouldn’t ever miss responding to an email. But, right now, there are only two things that ring in my head – my wife and my kid. We haven’t had the chance to celebrate our son’s arrival in the past two weeks. But we know that this, too, shall pass and we will have a long and happy life together. This will only make us stronger. We are taking it slow and progress is made every day. But it’s a long haul.
I remember the lines of Robert Browning that I used to quote to impress my wife eight years back:
“Grow old along with me
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made;”
I didn’t understand it then. It took a tragic moment for me to realise the enormity of it.
I’m not giving a sermon here. But I hope everyone understands that WhatsApp can wait. An office email can wait. A cricket match can wait. Liking a photo on Facebook can wait. But don’t let your love and loved ones wait. You never know when it’s too late. Happiness is incomplete if you don’t have the right people to share it with. As I look at her sleep every night, I tell myself that every moment from here on is hers and I am going make it count. Others can wait. Even my son. Had it not been for my wife who urged me not to give up on my writing, I wouldn’t have penned this down either.
Cherish your loved ones, and give them what they deserve – it’s a hard lesson to learn if you take them for granted.
This post originally appeared here.
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