I don't want to let you down.

My partner is a musician—a damned good one at that. In the first couple of years of our relationship, he was in as many as nine bands at once, and I tried to make it to as many shows as possible. The music town we live in is notorious for its late nights of rock and roll, and I was once known to stay out ‘til 2 AM several nights a week in order to catch shows.

But a more regular work schedule and a need to take care of myself through creating healthier routines meant that I really cut down on my rock schedule. I sometimes wish Athens were a town where headlining bands went on at, say, 8 PM instead of the regular 11:30 or midnight (and that’s on the early side).

Once in awhile, Jim will play in a show that is extra-special. Last week he had one of those nights. He drums for a band whose front woman (a close friend of mine) was celebrating her tenth year of being in the Athens music scene—an impressive feat considering she’s a few years shy of 30. In the weeks leading up to the show, Madeline was counting down the days ’til the performance. At last the big night arrived; the show was going without a hitch and the band looked thrilled. During intermission, I dipped backstage to congratulate the band and to tell Jim that I was going to have to go home in a few minutes—it was getting pretty late, and I didn’t want to turn into a pumpkin with a migraine. Madeline heard me say I had to go home, and her face fell, just for a moment. I don’t think that my being there was super-important, I think it was that she had prepared for this big night and it was hard to hear that someone was going to up and leave in the middle of it, before the show was finished. She understands my health needs pretty well but I can’t forget that brief flicker of disappointment.

Here’s the thing. No matter how wonderful and understanding your friends and family are, you will disappoint them now and again if your migraine disease requires you to miss out on important events. Of course they’d rather have you well than sick, and of course they appreciate the love and support you give them whenever you can. But there will often be that faint flicker of disappointment, that moment of “you’ve let me down” before logic steps in and they can remember that you love them and that you’re doing the best you can.

Jim always understands when I need to miss his performances: sometimes I have a migraine, sometimes I am not willing to stay up way past my bedtime and risk screwing with my routine, sometimes I simply have too much work to do. Despite his ongoing love and support, there are still moments when he’ll wake up the morning, still exhilarated after a big show, turn to me, and say, “I wish you’d been there.” I wish it, too.

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