As a writer, I learned early on the value of celebrating romance when life goes to hell. During introductions at my first local chapter meeting of Romance Writers of America in West Des Moines, Iowa, a young woman’s story gave me a new perspective and pride in my newly-chosen career. I've heard similar stories over and over.
“Reading romance helped me through my father dying of cancer. That’s why I decided to write romance novels. I want to do the same for other people,” she said. For that horrible year, romance stories were a great escape from the pain and grief that was her daily life. And the experience of finding love and happiness in the darkest of circumstances that reading romance offered gave her hope—which is always worth celebrating. Laughing through light-hearted romantic comedies lifted her spirits and offered a respite in which to renew her strength.
As a reader, I experienced the power of celebrating romance when my husband went from healthy and strong to the brink of death in twelve short hours. We were in the process of moving to a new home when our timid, neurotic housecat, Jasper, transformed into murderous Demon Spawn.
In an effort to calm Jasper, we decided to put the confused and frightened fifteen-pound orange tabby into his cat carrier. To avoid getting scratched and clawed, Chuck made the mistake of grasping the cat’s front legs in one hand and his hind legs in the other and picking him up. Jasper just wasn’t the sort of cat you find on the television show, My Cat from Hell. That our cuddly pet would bite him never occurred to my husband.
But Jasper acted on pure animal instinct, defending himself from what seemed like attack with the deadly tools God had given him. He bit my husband’s hands and arms multiple times, going all the way through the ring finger on his left hand. Later, the ER doctor had to cut his gold wedding band in to places in order to remove the ring.
Despite the cat’s efforts, Chuck got him into the cat carrier. Blood streamed from his wounds, but being a man, he refused to go to the emergency room. In spite of my protests, he insisted on washing the wounds himself with soap and water, pouring peroxide over them, stopping the bleeding, and then helping my sons finish loading the moving van.
By the time the truck was unloaded and turned into the rental place, it was 11:30 pm and we were exhausted. His hands and arms hurt like the devil, but he was sure that was from being bit and moving things. We went to bed.
The next morning, he had a fever and two wide red streaks running up to his armpits. His fingers were swollen like sausages and he felt dizzy. He was too weak to fight going to the ER.
Turns out that, according to the hand surgeon who was called into the ER, 90% of cat bites get infected. For comparison, only 5% of dog bites do. Feline mouths harbor a nasty strain of bacteria. Anyone bitten by a cat should make a beeline for the nearest urgent care center or emergency room.
Chuck’s severe bite wounds were infused with millions of potentially-lethal bacteria who had multiplied overnight until the infections had spread almost to his heart. Reaching his heart would have been fatal.
|ME & FRECKLES|
OUR CURRENT RESCUE CAT
GIFT FROM HUBBY
Microsurgery was performed on Chuck’s hand. Years later he still has no feeling in part of that finger. He spent five days in the hospital with IV antibiotics being pumped directly into his heart. He left the hospital on Christmas Eve with a portable pump and the IV still in him. I spent those five days on a bedside vigil alternating between praying and reading a romance novel.
My faith gave me the strength to function. Celebrating romance kept me sane.
Has celebrating romance helped you through a hellish situation?