I hold this fear that I will die before I see 35. I worry I won’t know my son and daughter as teenagers. The very thought of never meeting my grandchildren, indeed, takes my breath away.
But I am overall healthy. I run 3-4 days a week. I don’t drink. And my days are fueled by oatmeal, nuts, and vegetables.
Recently, however, I was quite ill. Six hours of vomiting – to be exact. The virus was so powerful that I found myself gasping for air between commode encounters. On a makeshift bed of well-used towels – given to us at our wedding – I laid myself down. At 2 a.m. the Earth is silent.
Until, that is, I heard a door creak.
“I think I’m dying!”
“No, you’re not.”
And, with that, a hand I know so well rubbed my back.
Several years ago, wedding vows were a source of contention for my soon-to-be husband and myself. We are both creative minds. I didn’t want to be upstaged.
Thus, our middle ground was a script – to be written and recited together – that would capture our eternal commitment to one another. Although the implication for our scripture-based vows was “in sickness and health”, we never actually agreed to such terms.
But then came miscarriage, PCOS, and infertility demons. Later, after our second child’s birth, I battled extreme exhaustion, to the point where I believed I had Lyme disease. And, all the while, I had to lean on my groom. Most often, I didn’t know how to verbalize my needs. Most often, he didn’t know how to meet them.
The thing about marriage is, there is no guidebook. Really, not even your spouse can unlock all you need to know. To do marriage well, you must spend time together. And, in those times of sickness, true character is revealed.
I am increasingly convinced that marriage – much like parenthood – is a journey of learning oneself. The plus side is that I have a partner for late-night, bathroom floor rendezvous; the bad news is that I can’t wallow in a sea of self-pity. People need me, too.
So we press on. We antagonize with love and grow in our forgiveness. And each night – just before the day ends – I fall asleep against the flawed being I have chosen:
“In you, I have faith; in you, I have hope; but, greatest, in you, I have love.”*
[*The final line of our vows]
One Year Ago: Learning to Unlearn