As soon as I understood the seriousness of David’s injury, I shifted into a wartime mentality. Everything that needed to be done or endured, I faced with determination. Between that and the prayers and help of family, friends, and strangers, I made it almost a full year with no meltdowns.
Then I walked into the auto supply store.
A headlight on our then-Buick had gone kaput. I bought a replacement bulb, and David described how to find and remove the old one. I did that, but the new unit looked different and refused to fit. So, back to the auto supply store.
The clerk who waited on me spoke impatiently. “You need the bright bulb or the dim? You know they’re separate units. One goes in a ways back from the other.”
I didn’t know that, and I didn’t know which one I needed. He snorted and brushed aside the one I’d just returned. “Well, you’ll just have to find out and then come back.”
Though my ingratiating smile had long ago faded, what happened next took us all by surprise. I didn’t exactly shriek, but I certainly didn’t whisper. Heads turned as the words poured out. “My husband broke his neck, and I’m trying to handle everything, and you aren’t helping. I’m going someplace where they will!”
He called after me, “You need to get your money refunded.”
“I don’t want my money!” I shoved through the door.
Outside, I leaned against the Buick and sobbed. After a few minutes, I gathered my courage and went back in. The clerk’s eyes widened with alarm, but I had come to apologize for my tantrum. I’d never spoken to a salesperson like that before. He didn’t quite know what to do with the apology – I think he was more comfortable with the tantrum – but another clerk said, “Let me look at your car. Maybe I can help.”
He did. He located the problem, fetched the right part, and installed it. He also apologized for the other clerk’s rudeness. “This is retail, after all.”
Since then, I’ve heard story after story like mine – eventually all caregivers go up in flames. And it seems my episode came right on schedule, a year after the accident.
I went home and told David the whole story. “You’re burned out,” he said. “It’s time for other people to carry part of this. I’ll set up rides to work and therapy so you get some time off.”
Do you wonder why I love this guy?
I still haven’t been back to that store.