A friend on Facebook recently posted a meme about what to do when a woman says “Do what you want.”
It then says, DO NOT DO WHAT YOU WANT. Stand still. Do not blink. Do not answer. Don’t even breathe. Just play dead.”
Ah yes. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
But three years ago this week, I was living through a different brand of experience. My late wife was deep in the throes of treatment for a brain surgery stemming from ovarian cancer that had somehow circumvented the supposed brain-blood barrier and made its way into tumors that needed to be surgically removed.
That was in January 2013. Then the treatment was followed by a bit of radiation. And then steroids. That was when things got really interesting.
You’ve all heard of “roid rage,” which is when athletes get so hyped up they have no control over their emotions? Well, it’s real. And while my wife on steroids was not subject to steroid-induced rage, she did become absolutely fearless.
And let me tell you something, an absolutely fearless person can be a very scary thing. It was impossible in some ways to tell when she was being serious or not. We spent some money we did not really have. We bought a new vehicle when I wasn’t even working (thank God for my 960 credit rating at the time) and bunches of other things. I thought the money was coming from some unknown source, perhaps a gift from her very giving parents. But no.
A wife on steroids also cleans a lot. A whole lot. And then cleans some more. Entire shelves of formerly peaceful dishes were offloaded and wiped clean and put back in their places. Rooms got painted. She could not lie down for more than 10 minutes. “I feel great!” she’d enthuse.
The steroids also bulked her up. This was a bit disconcerting on a couple levels. She was already a tall, big-boned German girl. I felt like there was no room in the bed. And then she started snoring too. So I moved to the front room and slept there. No choice. It was like a freight train coming through the bedroom.
None of this do I blame her for. She was a wife on steroids. But it had a cost outside the home. Her judgment was impaired on many levels. Aggressive driving, for one thing. And her work as a teacher at preschool ultimately had to end. She was too spacey to do her job properly. Our close friend and her preschool manager called me one afternoon. We talked quietly about the fact that it was time to give it a break. Linda was simply too charged up.
And then the prescription for steroids ceased and she wound down like a clock. Peacefully with friends and family around she passed away in March of 2013.
But that month with a wife on steroids had its gifts as well. We purchased a painting by an artist whose work I’ve grown to love. Now I work in the same studios that artist once did, and it reminds me to take my work seriously. Yet joyfully.
In the long run, there was no way for go out of this world other than the way she did. But it was like an intense tryst with a powerful spirit, those 45 days with a wife on steroids.
Women have always seemed like intense creatures to me. It does not pay to mess with disrespect or lack of trust. But I do have to laugh when thinking back on what it might have been like to try to continue living with a wife on steroids. I really don’t wish it on anyone.
Most women don’t need steroids to be strong. They’re strong enough already. And if you think you’re tough, just give it a go. Push them to the point where they say, “Do what you want.” See how far that gets you. But I recommend the advice in that Facebook meme first. “Stand still. Do not blink. Do not answer. Don’t even breathe. Just play dead.”
When I was very young, perhaps 14 years old, I loved the song by Cat Stevens called Hard Headed Woman. Something in me recognized the virtues of a woman that could both encourage you and hold you accountable. I’m dating a woman like that now, and grateful for it.
I’m looking for a hard headed woman, headed woman
One who will make me do my best
And if I find my hard headed woman
I know the rest of my life will be blessed, yes, yes, yes
Yesterday I also spent 45 minutes talking with my mother-in-law, who is a hard-headed woman in her own way. Her life has been spent exploring the difficult path of following Christ. Her search was so intense, she has crossed over the bridge to Judaism and back. This has been an illustration to me of the fact that normalcy and expectations are not adequate measures of a person’s true heart.
Nor the desire to love, and be loved. I wish that for all. My children. My friends. My family. My readers. If love were the thing on steroids, perhaps the world really would be a better place.