What is commitment, marriage and for that matter Love?? What does it really mean to be chronically ill most of your life which forces you to change so many plans and make so many sacrifices.. what does that mean to the loved one, the husband, the partner, the one not ill at all, in fact perfectly healthy.. do things change?
Yo bet they do.
Our marriage, our love has changed, in many ways become stronger but it has suffered as well.
I think about:
- all the drives to appointments and hospital visits – when I am silent in the passenger seat holding my abdomen, or wincing in pain or just passed out with exhaustion.
- The waiting in waiting rooms…
- the meal prep and grocery runs, whether alone or together….
- all the heavy lifting, the heavy chores around the house, things that used to be done by both..
- the restless nights, lack of sleep as he lies awake worried
- monitoring low blood sugars, high blood pressures
- reminding me of medications and vitamins
- the piggy back lifts up the steep stairs when I can’t make it up the stairs or just need that extra boost
- this is a big one.. leaving his job and staying home, despite judgements from others “why is he not out there making money etc” (now sure he has some other reasons as well for this choice) but no one really understands, his sacrifice to be with me, near me, to be there when all of a sudden I need to go to the ER. To drive me to countless appointments during the week. To be in the next room when I go to bed early and lie there groaning with pain. To rush downstairs when I need more insulin or pills.
I was sick when we met in Cuba, even thought I was working there, I had some health issues, one even sent me home that year and I came back after recovering. I had the liver disease when we met and he knew it would become more serious. But we married anyway. In love and full of hope he followed me to Canada to start again. He supported me through the liver disease worsening and the transplant and recovery. That was almost 5 years ago now. But it didn’t end like expected or at least stabilize. No, there was more to come. The kidney diagnosis came and we realized it wasn’t‘ getting better and it became a life of more doctors and more medications. Its a never ending thing. But he has been there. And is still here beside me.
For a long time I was an insecure bride, especially with the illness issue, I would question his willingness to stay with me, even push him to go back to his home country or pursue some adventure far away. I struggled with accepting unconditional love, loyalty and all that good stuff.
I do now. I know. I feel. I understand. Love is full of struggle, its deep and difficult. It can be painful and sad. It’s ache makes me yell and get angry sometimes, and cry in moments when I feel the rawness of mortality.
A while ago I wrote in my journal “Love is the ache I feel when at the end of the night just before I fall asleep, I roll over and lay a hand on my husband’s back as he is sleeping and feel the love and the possibility of loosing it” so true I think now. It is my worst fear – not being there beside him.
Even now with my illness and restless nights preventing him from always sleeping in our bed and we whisper our good-nights though the wall I feel the love all around me and feel blessed that I have him.
Joel is a great man. He is funny, strong, very smart. He is quiet and loves to be alone. A homebody but also a great storyteller, loves animals and has grown to enjoy Nature. I love his intellectual side, and his brilliance with financial analysis, numbers, and all that. I love that in many ways he is a child, in a man’s body. Laughing and playing with the dog on the floor, requesting his favorite food – burgers and milkshakes!!! We have had great adventures. Car trips, cooking together, watching movies, time in the park. I dream of more trips to Cuba to see his home, going to Europe and seeing some more of Ontario’s Parks.
But for right now it a day by day thing. Its finding joy in preparing dinners, its laughing at our dog and putting music on full blast to dance around the room for a minute.
This is my marriage. My continuing journey in true love. My partner Joel is the man I choose and the one who stands beside me.