He wanted to buy the kids an expensive piano. I thought a starter keyboard would do.
“I’ll be the one nagging the kids to practice,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Let’s see if they even like piano first.”
“You’re just being cheap.”
Cheap? I was winding up for a smackdown retort, and then it hit me.
“Are we—fighting?” I burst into laughter as my husband looked confused.
It had been a year since I’d challenged Bob or used a harsh tone. I suddenly understood that my sparring partner was back, my intellectual confederate, the person who could call me out on my failings, forgive the low blows and still love me. Bickering had never felt so delicious.
In 2006, our world turned upside down when a roadside bomb in Iraq exploded next to Bob’s vehicle while he was covering the war in Iraq for ABC News. The prognosis, as they rushed him into surgery in Balad, was not good. He’d taken shrapnel to the brain and the quick-acting surgeons had removed half of his skull to save his life. Like so many caregivers who live through trauma, I can still feel the way my heart twisted and splintered, still recall the sense of a demarcation line between before and after. During his 36 days in a coma, my aperture shrunk down to our four children and praying my husband would wake up so we could know what was left of him.