Two wonderful people tied the knot this weekend surrounded by their friends and family making it a happy and treasured past few days. I absolutely got caught up in the beautiful flowers, happy tears, and nervous smiles of the betrothed as they met each other at the end of aisle; but my observation of the vows has morphed into a deeper and greater experience following my own bridal march. What used to be a grand tradition of hopelessly romantic daydreams is now a more solid and applicable knowledge of what it truly means to promise your life to someone for all eternity.
This ceremony was no different- a fragrant and beautiful dream of devotion and spoken promises fueled by love said through eager smiling faces. Amidst my own silly permanent grin as an audience member, it dawned on me that of the two standing on the altar, it was very unlikely that one squeezed the other’s hand a little harder on “. . . in sickness and in health” as I did two years ago today.
Entering into marriage, I like to believe Peter and I were prepared for all the special obstacles that would come our way due to my health; but honestly, I’m not sure I believe anyone in my generation is slightly prepared for marriage. Marriage is tough business, folks. A happy and meaningful relationship is intentional, flexible, and progressive— adjectives unthinkable in a society saturated with instant gratification.
What didn’t occur to me back then was that most couples entering into marriage are healthy and vibrant twentysomethings and the realities of those vows “in sickness and in health” are far faded away by a murky trajectory of life. But for Peter and I, “in sickness and in health” was our now. It would always be our now and a significant feature of our marriage. It made our relationship special.
Has marriage with a chronic illness been easy? Absolutely, not. My disease has been felt deeply by both of us, in different ways I am sure. Moreover, just as in every other part of my life, the influence of CF has highlighted the very depth of my understanding of love. It’s given me a unique lens to view our marriage through, which is why gushing over my hunky husband right now is as easy as pie. When I think about the reasons I love Peter most though, his fearlessness and willingness to love me- my uncertainty, my burden, my lifestyle, my expectancy, my perspective- tops the list.
Peter took on a new life that would require him to work harder and love deeper with the knowledge of the possibility of losing it sooner. He has always been calm and encouraging when faced with our reality. That’s why at the end of each day, I fall asleep undeniably knowing I am wildly and fiercely loved by my husband.
And that is my dream come true.
Am I going to say Peter is an expert on everything CF? Heck no. Dude, doesn’t know the difference between albuterol and hypertonic saline. But, he’s always willing to learn in an effort to become a better caregiver- something I appreciate so very much. I might have once giggled as my mom instructed him on the how-tos of hospital sheet changing upon admission, or teased him when he learned to access my port while adorned in gloves and a mask, but what I realize now is the loving force of his intentional devotion.
Our young marriage is different. Our lives will always be slightly different than our peers in similar stages of life. Our priorities and goals have to be focused and planned in an effort to experience it all despite CF, and sometimes, our goals will be rewritten. Daily, I am reminded of the promise he made to me because I see him fulfilling those agreements through his actions- every time he moves my plethora of machines from one side of the house to the other, every dinner he has ever cooked because I have been in bed, and every extra hour he works so that I have more hours to care for myself. He has done it all out of love- just as he promised.
These past two years have been so much sweeter and far more superior because of that sunny Friday afternoon when Peter held my hands and vowed to love all of me- every last mutated cell.
Happy 2nd Anniversary, Peter! We made it to Cotton. I love you so very much!
(Congratulations, Katie and Steven!)