The Surprise 180

Two Sundays ago I woke up feeling good, looking forward to going to church with Tom since we hadn’t been able to make it the previous week. Within 15 minutes the cramps started to set in. They steadily got worse until I was experiencing some of the worst pain of my life. I’m talking screaming, crying pain. I couldn’t even keep down my Advil, and the thought of eating even a few bites of food so I could take more was sickening. To say it was miserable would be an understatement. Moments like these make me extremely grateful to not be among those who suffer from chronic pain.
So there I am, sitting in my transcendentally awful pain, and Tom performs the simplest yet most potent act of kindness I have ever known. He starts rubbing my back.

The physical act of massaging these muscles should not have been able to produce the relief that it did. Something beyond the mechanics of his touch was at work. It was the loving empathy in his fingertips that caused my body to do a 180. I had never experienced such a radical shift in mental and physical state from one minute to the next.

“I’m on the Dave Ramsay get out of back rub debt quick plan,” he quipped.

Indeed, I had been bugging him about the fact that he had been slacking a bit in the reciprocation of the back rubs. His impeccable timing more than made up for it.

A minute later, he put some Brahms piano music on his phone. The state of serenity that came over me was nothing short of miraculous.

To me, this is what having a life partner is all about. It’s those moments when you can’t see beyond the impasse that is in front of you. It’s like coming upon a brick wall that appears to be impenetrable, and then your lover walks up beside you and patiently shows you that there was a door there in front of you all along that you hadn’t noticed.

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