We’ve been together 20 years, you’ve seen me at my worst throughout every one of those years. You’ve been to most of my appointments with me, hospitalizations, procedures, surgeries, recoveries. You have taken time off work, drive me to appointments, held me tight in bed when I was inconsolable, made me meals, massages migraines away (sometimes for hours), carried me to bed, take on at least 80 percent of household and financial responsibility. You know every single medication I’m on and everything I’m allergic to.
It wasn’t always as bad. I spent my 20s with chronic migraines, back pain and kidney stones. We found a small brain tumor, had some scares but I still kicked butt. I was 35, just five years ago, when my health drastically changed. It was also a time of diagnosis as a geneticist put all these crazy pieces together. Now, as a new health condition emerges, you still remain my rock. You’ve taught our boys to be just as compassionate.
The best part – never once have you complained, shown sign of weary or discontent. You have never made me feel bad or guilty or like your life could have been better with someone who isn’t sick. I made that up on my own. You see, sometimes, I fantasize for you. I imagine a greater happiness for you, even when you tell me there is no place you’d rather be. I can picture you traveling, racing cars, snowboarding and not having to make dinner after a 16 hour shift.
Days go by and if I manage to make it out of bed, I’ve done only the absolute necessities for the day. I’m lucky I can still do that. I’m hopeful I can reduce the progression of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome by staying consistent with my diet and daily physical therapy. I don’t want you to come home to dishes in the sink or the need to make dinners. Our life was to be one equally distributed, a partnership.
Maybe it’s the accountant in me who is tallying this gross inequality of duties and watching your equity grow in this partnership. However, it’s the empath in me that knows I chose you for a reason. It’s the empath in me that knows, if the roles were reversed, I would be there for you just the same.
The depression and anxiety that comes along with my health issues is another level of care required from you. I cry, retreat, get angry and take it out on you at times. Chronic pain has a way of igniting an inner anger that I don’t recognize in myself, further adding to a loss of identity.
Your patience, love and compassion have saved my life. I’m 100 percent certain. I don’t know another human like you. When I changed my diet, you immediately changed your diet too, to support me. You attend gentle yoga, walk with me and fill in at events to raise money in a place I was committed to attend.
Here’s the thing. I never felt the unconditional type of love like yours before. My goal is to do whatever possible on my end to be the best I can to manage my condition, because one day you if you need me, I need to be there for you. I want to be there for you. You deserve that and more. Although I never want to see you sick, know that I am preparing for that role. If we’re really lucky, the outcome will be a better version of myself who accepts and manages my condition and a healthy husband who will spend another 20 plus years together.
Others need to know that people like you exist, that romance isn’t always a cliche bunch of flowers or a dinner out, but actually in the seemingly small ways you give me hope and comfort each day.