It is fitting that I spend this day, my 22nd wedding anniversary, with my lovely bride at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. We are here together waiting for Kylie to get out of minor surgery. We have never made a huge deal of our anniversary – sometimes a nice dinner out but often just too much going on with our four children to make it work. I’m embarrassed to say there have been years when a kiss and a card is all we could muster. Suffice it to say that there will not be a banner celebration this year, either.
Year 22 has been challenging to say the least. Not in a contentious way, I am happy to report that we have never been more united. But when I review the years, this is one that I would like stricken from the record. I wish I could pull this book off the shelf and let 21 fall lazily into 23. It proves the need for the “better or worse, in sickness and in health” portion of the vows we stood up and said when I was but a wet-nosed pup.
Even though April’s cancer diagnosis has made the year regrettable, I have learned much about my wife and our marriage. In fact, I’ve learned things I will never give back.
I learned my wife has a seemingly infinite supply of tears that no words of mine can dry. My shoulder has been wetted by them far too often. I wish I had a magic word to make them stop, but only time and tenderness sooth the pain.
Likewise, I have learned my wife’s care for those she loves has no limit.
I have learned my wife is the most unselfish person I know. She has put her life completely on hold this year and not voiced one word of complaint about what she is missing.
I’ve shared the boat when the storm is high and seen her reach levels of peace that can only be called supernatural.
I have seen that she can be her loved one’s greatest advocate, stopping at nothing to get what her patient needs and letting no one interfere with her.
I know that she might not remember to take her phone off silent for days on end, but she can quickly recall exact medication, doses, and the last time given.
I have found she has strength and resolve I could only imagine prior to this year.
I have seen her ignore her own pain and seek ways to lessen the pain of her patient.
Although she hates camping, I have learned that she will sleep on an uncomfortably hard couch beside a hospital bed for nights on end if someone she loves needs her there.
Speaking of sleep, I have been reminded that she needs very little and will sacrifice it completely if she is needed during the night.
With only twenty-four hours in the day and a relentless schedule of caregiving, she seems to have created time and invented special ways to make the rest of us in the family feel loved.
I now know that her faith, hope, and love are boundless.
All in all, I have seen God reaffirm just how blessed I am that she had a momentary lapse of reason and chose me. I always thought I would be the elderly and infirmed patient that required her care first. I wish that were the case. When I grow old and start falling apart, I’m sure I will test her patience with surprising wimpiness and irrational demands. With what I’ve seen this year, I know I will be in excellent hands.
So today, I will whisper a Happy Anniversary to her while Kylie sleeps off the anesthesia. Sometimes through sickness and tragedy we learn things. Every day this year, I have seen the tender way she cares for her girl and learned a little more about just how lucky I am.
When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four