Joel lay in bed watching Winnie sleep, saddened and frustrated about her appearance. Yes, she was as beautiful as ever, elegant even. But how had she done this to herself. Why had she done this to herself? What was wrong with the culture of the theatre that made women think they needed to be thin in order to be beautiful?
He loved her curves. There weren’t many curves left.
The blanket draped over her naked form wasn’t fully covering her and Joel lifted the blanket just little more and took a moment to examine her in the moonlight. Her breasts were smaller, her ribs were more visible, as were her hips. She was starving herself. Tears sprung to his eyes.
For the first time Joel allowed himself to admit what he’d probably known all along. He almost said the words out loud as he thought them in his head. My wife has anorexia nervosa. My wife has an eating disorder. My wife needs to get treatment. Immediately.
He was in medical school. He should have identified this a long time ago. If only he’d allowed himself to admit the signs that had been there all along. He blamed himself. If he’d followed his gut instinct months ago, she could have been in treatment all this time. She could have been getting healthier instead of wasting away like a skeleton.
How was he supposed to leave her on Sunday evening? How was he supposed to go back to college and pretend he didn’t know what he knew? How was he supposed to abandon his wife? He had made a vow to care for her in sickness and in health.
He was failing as a husband. He’d brushed off his responsibilities, justifying that he’d already proven his ability to care for her in sickness and wanted all the spoils of her health. He needed to take a step back and realize his vows were about to be tested again.
Joel took another silent vow that he would find a way to help his wife. She deserved his commitment. She deserved his willingness to set aside his own needs, set aside his own education and career if that’s what it would take.
He would set aside his life to save hers.
Book Club Discussion: What would you do to save the love of your life?