My love is like a broken rib

So my husband says to me, he says, “Next year, I’ll be the one shooting at the roof. Then we’ll see who’s laughing.”

Let me back up. We were at Señor Tadpole’s, celebrating the benignity of my nodules. If you say that fast enough, it sounds like something fried they serve to gullible tourists in the French Quarter, but it is not. I had been waiting since last week to hear from the lab whether I had cancer or not. Thyroid cancer is kind of the Switzerland of cancers, from what I hear. You have to work really, really hard to get it to make a fuss.

Even the surgery isn’t too bad, if you have to have it. I’ve already had the other half of my thyroid taken out, and that was good for a lot of sympathetic door-holding, let me tell you. People see you coming down the hall with a bunch of little kids and your neck stitched shut, and they hold the door.

But this week, I had been holding my own doors, and my husband wanted to make sure I knew he had been worried and concerned and praying, even if he didn’t wear it on his sleeve. I knew this, because I know him. When I got the heebie jeebies, I would tell him so, and he would hold me, and there was no use thinking hard about what might happen should one of us turn out to be mortal.

Around the same time as I went in for my biopsy, he fell on his bottomus on the ice. His forearm bruised and swelled up impressively, and his jaundiced eye got a few shades yellower, but we thought that was the end of it. But no. It now looks like he may have fractured a rib or two — just enough to make most movements uncomfortable, not enough to, I don’t know, GO TO THE DOCTOR OR ANYTHING.

I can’t tell him anything. I did ask, “Do you want to, I don’t know, GO TO THE DOCTOR OR ANYTHING, YOU RIDICULOUS  MAN?” Which is my way of saying, “I love you”; but he didn’t.  He did tell the kids that it was partially my fault, because his rib is where I came from. This seems fair.

So there we were, sharing a plateful of what the menu called — I’m not making this up — “Nachos Cowabunga.” To the waitress, my husband said, “We’ll have these nachos. The ones with beef.” When she nodded and left, he looked at me and said, “I’m an adult.” Cowabunga-free since 2004, at least.

We got to talking about how decrepit we were, and I expressed astonishment that it was on this mild winter that he had fallen and broken his ridiculous ribs, and not last winter, which was the winter where I spent most of the time sleeping like a fat, fat, fat bear because I was pregnant, and he spent most of the time up on the roof, trying to chip through the aptly-named ice dams that were causing our house to slowly fill up with light brown water, one ceiling drip at a time. (That winter, we established that, as homeowners, our least favorite sound was trickling.)

Last winter would have been the time to fracture something. This winter has been mild. Next winter, he says, he has a plan, in case all that effing snow comes back. Next winter,  he says, he is going to fill his shotgun with salt and he is going to kill the ice. And then no one’s house will fill up with water, and no one’s roof will cave in, and we will all be safe.

Which is his way of saying, “I love you,” and I know it.


Adam and Eve depicted in a mural in Abreha wa Atsbeha Church, Ethiopia. photo By Bernard Gagnon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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