Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Love Under Calico Skies

Nine years ago our eyes met across that crowded room...

It was written that I would love you
From the moment I opened my eyes
And the morning when I first saw you
Gave me life under calico skies...

Paul McCartney's words were delivered angelically by our dear friend as if meant for us, just as I knew you were meant for me.  I felt as if my entire life had unfolded in the exact right order to bring me to you, to the safety of your embrace and the joy of our shared laughter.

We stood in front of our family and friends, giddy with happiness, pledging to love each other, to be faithful, to honor and cherish one another in sickness and in health.

In sickness and in health.

Well, we weren't supposed to live that particular vow quite this soon, were we?  We were supposed to sail smoothly through life until we were older, much older, before worrying about the sickness part of the deal.

And yet, we came face to face with a serious threat to my health while we were still in the prime of our lives together. The grim reminder of mortality was too serious and much too soon.

You shouldn't have had to worry about your wife getting cancer before we even turned 40. You didn't deserve to play the role of caregiver through surgeries and treatments or face even the remotest possibility of raising our son on your own.  You shouldn't have had to stare down the barrel of that particular gun.

And yet you did.  You looked right at that loaded gun.  You blinked.  Once, then twice.  And then you did this remarkable thing:  You turned your gaze from it, as if deciding that, just as in a nightmare, our worst fears are only reality if we feed them.  You looked away from the gun and right into my eyes and said, "We'll beat this.  That scary place is not for us."

So rather than dwell in the dark, you chose to shine light and hope over the process of my healing.  You immersed yourself in researching my options and served as my filter for information I didn't trust myself to read.  You let me be scared when I needed to but kept me focused on the positive.  You encouraged me to believe in our research and trust my instincts. You have stood by me, rooted firmly in the conviction that we were choosing the best path, even if it was the one less traveled.

I'll never be able to forget the paralyzing fear on the day we received the grim misdiagnosis when we believed I might only have a year to live, one year to soak up life with you and our son.  Devastated, we sat holding hands in a gazebo in the park, crying and praying for our miracle.  We prayed the diagnosis was wrong.  We prayed that I would be the one to beat the odds.

Two days later we got our miracle when we learned that the nurse had misspoken, that that particular cancer wasn't MY cancer.  It wasn't my dragon to beat.  From that day forward, MY cancer seemed less threatening and everything began to look like a blessing.  From that day forward, we stayed focused on the light.

 Always looking for ways to love you
Never failing to fight at your side
While the angels of love protect us
From the innermost secrets we hide

Then came three weeks at the hospital in Mexico.  It should have been scary.  It should have been overwhelming.  But you made it fun.  You were my cancer camp buddy, my partner in crime.  You sat by my side reading and doing crosswords as the powerful treatments coursed through my veins.  You helped me shower when I couldn't lift my arm or dress myself after my surgery, even trying your best to do my hair.  You laughed with me as I sat in the transdermal ozone machine, looking a bit like a soggy turtle, all the while telling me I was beautiful when it couldn't have been farther from the truth.

Throughout this entire journey, you have been my rock, my comfort and my greatest advocate.  You have always been this, in both the sickness and the health, but the challenges we've faced this year have further illuminated the oh so many ways in which you are wonderful.

Words can never express how much you mean to me, how much I love you after these nine amazing years.  You've given me so much:  Our incredible son, a million beautiful memories, as many snuggles as I can handle and so much laughter.  Best of all, you continue to give me hope and confidence and the absolute surety that this year's trials have held blessings.  I know that these gifts will continue to teach and nurture us through the many, many years of health we have ahead of us together.

So now each time we pause at that gazebo in the park, we'll hold each other and give thanks for love, for life and for the gift of calico skies.

I'll hold you for as long as you like
I'll hold you for the rest of my life

 Happy Anniversary.