Thanks to the patient, herculean efforts of our latest hero Sean (one of the haematology nurses on ward T16) Janine made a rapid recovery yesterday morning and was able to come home late last night..
The nausea still lingers in the background but she is not being sick. She is very tired and that is going be the pattern of the next few days. She will hit neutropenia sometime around Thursday so we will be back to keeping her locked away for the weekend and the body scanner will be reintroduced for visitors.
I don’t remember the exact context now but a few months ago, as we were discussing who out of the kids and I should help Janine with something, Ellie, as only she can, reminded me that, whilst they owe Janine the duties of a child to a parent, I on the other hand have taken vows.
As any lawyer will tell you there is a world of difference between a mere contractual obligation or undertaking and a covenant of which the marriage vows would be an example. As we know from the Liberal Democrats, a ‘pledge’ is something entirely different. In fact, if you find yourself married to a Liberal Democrat you might want to check that they ‘vowed’ and didn’t just pledge. If you are a student whose father or mother is a Liberal Democrat and who has pledged to support you through Higher Education then …. Well I’m just sorry for you.
But to get back to the point, whatever their nature and as Ellie reminded me, what has long struck me about the vows I took is their sheer practicality.
I am as much a sucker for romance as the next person. I would confidently list chick flick rom coms amongst my favourite films (Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve got Mail, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (I have some ideas on that by the way) Munich, Saving Private Ryan, Blood Diamond) but amidst all the apparent romance and excitement of a wedding day we make some pretty fundamental and realistic promises.
We promise to forsake others because whoever wrote our vows knew that there will be others to forsake. We promise to love whether our lives are better or worse because they will be both at some point. We promise to keep loving in sickness and in health because the illness of a partner can stretch and test and strain us beyond anything that mere feelings will sustain. I know that there are some who find themselves in relationships that are abusive or in situations that are unbearable and irretrievable but I wonder whether for the majority of us the best preparation for marriage might not be simply to think hard on those vows and what we will promise.
Tony Blair has said that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose. It is a dreadful analogy but our relationships and marriages seem to me to be the same. We may take vows in magnificent and beautiful sonnets but our love is proved in the mundane essays of our lives together.