Tonight John and I celebrated our 8th anniversary with take out food from Olive Garden (John managed to eat 3 spoonfuls of soup and 5 bites of spaghetti - he has a very small appetite and difficulty swallowing as a side effect of his current chemo cocktail), then moved to the bedroom (no funny business - sitting is quite uncomfortable when you have colorectal cancer so it's just easier to be in bed) and spent our evening talking and laughing together. My favorite conversation of the evening went like this:
ME: These past 8 years have been the best years of my life.JOHN: Me, too. Wait, even the last 17 months?ME: Yes, even the last 17 months. We've really put "in sickness and in health" to the test, haven't we? I wouldn't mind more health for a while.(pause)JOHN: Yeah, I wouldn't mind more "for richer" instead of "for poorer", while we're wishing.(we both burst out laughing)
But all joking aside, no, our life is not what I thought it'd be at this point. I had no idea that John would be diagnosed with cancer, or that in the almost year and a half following that diagnosis he'd go through 10 rounds of chemo, radiation on 2 different fields, a fluid draw off his abdomen that made him 20 lbs lighter, all to be followed by another 12 rounds of chemo. I had no idea that we'd be on a first name basis with everyone at the chemo clinic, or that we'd know the ins and outs of the local ER. I didn't know that I'd miss work every other Tuesday for 5 months or that my students would handle it so wonderfully. I didn't know that we'd come to realize just how amazing our friends and family are - from my parents driving up once a week to hang out with John and take him to appointments to my friend who has dubbed herself the "gift card fairy" and sends a new gift card every few weeks in the mail (this week she's inadvertently bought our groceries, bought me a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and bought our anniversary dinner tonight). I couldn't have predicted that John would lose 160 lbs in 2 years, or that we'd need to buy him new pants in a smaller size every 2 months. I didn't know that we wouldn't be parents, that my husband would ask if I'd ever thought about fostering, or that he'd then follow up with the question, "but would they even consider letting us foster given my health situation?"
I didn't know we'd feel like we're always running a race against time. Racing from treatment to treatment, his side effects starting to subside just in time for another round. Him living for the weekend when I can be home with him and he won't be lonely, me living for the weekend when I can take a breather from work (school) and focus on work (home). Racing toward the next holiday, the next spring break, the next summer vacation, hoping for time together and yet fearful that it will be the. last. one. I didn't know we'd be anxiously waiting for my next pay check, for his next disability check (did you know that short term disability checks come more frequently while long term disability checks only come once a month? we learned that this month) and yet dreading every bill, every time the receptionist at the doctor's office asks, "would you like to make a payment today?" not because we don't want to pay, but because we can't.
And yet, I didn't know that I could love this man infinitely more today than I did 8 years ago when I vowed to be his wife. I didn't understand the full meaning of what it would be to cherish this man, but that's exactly what I do now - I cherish him, every day he wakes up, every moment we have together. I live for his smile, his touch, his love. I tend to him when he's nauseous, I remind him to take his meds when he forgets, I give him his shots after chemo. I laugh at his jokes and hold him when he cries in pain.
As I say to him almost daily, "I love you more today than yesterday..."
...and he answers, "but not as much as tomorrow."
We'll take as many tomorrows as God will give us.
|our wedding day|
|8 years later|