Friday, January 13, 2012

The Blue Angels

One weekend in 2006, the year I was the sickest of my life, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron known as the Blue Angels were coming back to town. They came every year to to dart, bob and weave over North Beach in San Francisco, demonstrating quite a show-stopping display. It was a performance I had seen many times, simply walking up to my apartment rooftop and gazing across the magnificent San Francisco Bay. Feeling the rush of excitement and closeness to the frenzied action as the planes thundered and nose-dived on top of me, pulling up and away in the last second of safety, or so it felt. My husband, sadly, had not been so lucky. Our years in San Francisco were harried and intense for him as he pursued two bachelors degrees full-time while also working full-time. He was very busy and missed most of the uniquely San Francisco weekend experiences due to the responsibility of his hectic schedule. But now he had graduated and we moved a little south. Despite my mounting mystery sickness I scheduled a chiropractor appointment in the city with a leisurely afternoon of Blue Angels viewing while we hung out with friends in our old neighborhood.

But I just could not do it. Simply attending the chiropractic appointment took every ounce of energy my Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome racked body possessed. And as we left Pacific Heights and headed toward North Beach tears sprung from my eyes. I could barely move, but knew how excited my husband was to finally see this magnificent display, and how badly he needed a day of fun to mix up his long work days and stress from my increasing health woes. There was not one ounce of anything I could pull from myself to proceed with our plans, and as I sobbed out my needs I visibly watched the life drain from his body as he slumped over the steering wheel and set his jaw in a tensely-bound square. The guilt radiating from my body matched the despair shock-waving from his as he turned the car toward home. I knew I was ruining his life and was powerless to stop it. I begged and pleaded with him to understand, get in my head and see how bad off I was, not giving him the right to his own feelings of anger and frustration he was so badly due.

This is but one of the multitude of times my health problems screwed up our plans for life. But the memory is so acute, so pointed. Such a glowing example of what these diseases rob from you and yours. The people we depend on so desperately to get us through, shelter our sick and throbbing bodies from the harshness of the outside world. It has taken me years to get out of my own head and begin to let him feel his feelings. Feelings he compressed deep inside and shoved out of the way because it was just not practical for both of us to fall apart at the same time. I did him a major disservice, but believe I did the best I could at the time. As my health returns and light and laughter and springing steps once again envelope our union, his tightly wound and deeply suppressed emotions are rushing forward. And I must deal with them. I must encourage him to talk about it, tell me how mad he is at me for getting sick, knowing it was not my fault, and then feeling guilty for his anger. I must listen as he pours out his frustration and sorrow he was forced to bottle up inside for so many years because everything was simply about me. I must listen with compassion and grace and understanding and not own it, not get defensive or feel guilty or take it personally. This is simply and truthfully what happened to us, and what we must do to process and move on. For it is in living and rejoicing in the now that we can heal the past. But I have not forgotten what I owe him, a Blue Angels nose dive on top of his head, and one day soon I hope to replace that painful and missing experience. Do the Blue Angels come to Arizona?

Thanks for joining,

This blog was originally published on 8/14/10. To date it is still my husband's favorite.


  1. Sorry, the Blue Angels do NOT have a show in NM.
    The USAF Thunderbirds do have shows in AZ and NV this year:
    When I worked in Annapolis, MD, got to experience the Blue Angels practicing for Naval Academy graduation. Those days I just gave up trying to work -- very noisy, but fun! :-D

  2. Leah, I love this post. It's so honest. We recently went through a time when my husband suffered through depression. I saw the other side of the coin. You don't want to complain about something they simply cannot help or risk making it worse so I just dealt with it. When he was better I was able to express the anger and frustration issues accumulated when dealing with his time of illness. Thankfully his had an end. Mine, apparently, doesn't and I worry that will one day take its toll on us. We have an open communicative marriage, like yours, and I can't stress enough to others how important that is in making it through any extended illness.