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Snow Day Reflections: Some things haven't changed

Trudging outside to dig my car out of the freshly fallen snow, my mind turned to previous years. The feeling of going out with shovel in hand felt comfortable and familiar. It's one of the few things that hasn't changed since Greg died.

I was the family snow shoveler. Greg would've been if his heart had allowed such things, but as early as 2009, exerting himself in the snow became dangerous. The truth is that it was dangerous before then, but the danger hadn't sunk in all the way. Greg liked doing tasks that required physical strength. We went camping and he successfully chopped down a small tree with an axe. We moved into an upstairs apartment and he insisted on carrying heavy boxes - even though the rest of us were concerned about his heart. He never shied away from a chance to show that he was strong and able, ready to protect and provide for me. It was hard to keep him down, even after his cardiac arrest alerted us that his heart was more precarious than most. Having been unconscious during the cardiac arrest, he didn't take the danger very seriously and continued to push himself to the limit.

That is until he started having regular arrhythmias and multiple cardiac arrests. He became terrified to get his heart rate up, fearing that it would lead to ventricular tachycardia which would either lead to a successful (horribly painful and traumatic) shock from his defibrillator, or death.

By the winter of 2009, he'd accepted that his shoveling days were over. He would watch out our sliding glass door while I shoveled and occasionally step out into the cold to shout encouragements. When I came in, he'd have a hot drink and warm blanket ready for me. I didn't mind having to shovel... to much... but he hated the feeling of helplessness and impotence. He wanted to be the one outside working in the snow while I sat inside with a book.

Illness steals a lot of things from us - things that are easily overlooked. For Greg it was the feeling of being a young, strong provider. For me, it was the opportunity to be cared for the way my husband wanted to care for me. It made me stronger and humbled him, but it was a loss nonetheless.

Today, I'm missing having a husband to come inside to. And grateful that he wanted to care for me - even if he couldn't always do it.

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