What is Love?
In the beginning love is more of a connection. A desire to get to know more about this person. A curiosity that makes you want to know everything there is to know about the other. You hold onto their every word like poetry. You have a need for their presence so strong, that missing them makes you sick to your stomach. It’s when you see each other next the passion is so overpowering that fireworks go off inside of you at the sight of them and your body tingles at their touch.
At your wedding, it’s being so nervous you want to vomit, yet the second you connect eyes you see the other with a smile bigger than you’ve ever seen them smile, with wet cheeks, and a consistent stream of tears gliding down them. It’s trusting them with your future and knowing that where ever you end up… as long as you’re together it will be worth the wild ride getting there.
It’s the moment you decide that the timing is right to start a family. The excitement, yet fear. Then finally the comfort in knowing that you have each other to stumble through it together.
It’s telling the one that you love that you have a deadly disease, that you are scared, and that your future is uncertain. It’s them countering with a hug so full of devotion, yet so full of passion because they too fear that they could lose you.
It’s facing that fear together, as a team. And if one get’s knocked down, you’ll fall down together.
I have a confession… a cheesy one at that. Some moments I find myself inspired with a burning desire to sit down and write. Different things trigger it be it a song, a dream, a memory, or in tonight’s case… a movie. Before I let this confession out I will call myself out upfront. I am an absolute hopeless romantic. I am also the type where my mood can be easily swayed by things as simple as a song, a story, or yes… even a movie. Tonight I watched Letters to Juliet (YES I KNOW… I am THAT cheesy!) and it got me thinking about Love.
I am very much the type that thought once I got married the wooing and sweeping the other off of their feet would have only just begin. That we’d be 80 years old walking 1.5 miles per hour leaning on one another for support with our feet only shuffling along, because lifting them off of the ground could risk a fall. I pictured him referring to me as “His Bride” after 50 years of marriage. Then reality crept in. He’s dodging a shoe being thrown at his head after an argument and somehow “My Old Lady” doesn’t sound as romantic as “My Bride”. It’s funny, but sometimes it takes looking back on my illness, my wedding, or the early days of our relationship to remember exactly what it was that led us to our life as we know it.
My marriage now is by no means as romantic as it was when we first started out and only on special occasions does the other take the time for surprises. Although we are no Romeo and Juliet we are one thing and that’s Real. Moments like tonight make me realize that the same desire to punch my husband in the gut is fueled by the passion that brought us together. If I didn’t care so much about him the thought of beating him some days wouldn’t be so desirable. I’m only kidding about beating him part… the actually doing it part. The desire… now that’s still there!
Sometimes that passion can be fueled by other things and once the feeling of being loved falls out of the equation, I think we as women fill that passion tank full of frustration, anger, maybe even a little regret. I have a friend in whom I think the world of. Right now she is going through one of the hardest decisions of her life. After 10 years of marriage her and her husband have decided to walk away and take separate paths. Although I do think that many throw the “D” word around far too easily, in her case I don’t know if there is any other way for the two of them to be happy. When one person has completely shut the other out both as a friend and as a partner and refuses to explore ways to make things better… you have no other choice than to go your separate ways. I do believe that marriage is worth fighting over… (that’s why my husband and I are so good at it… the fighting part), but her situation has opened my eyes to another side of cancer. One that is very, very ugly.
I will be the first to admit that there is always two sides to every story and that there is so much of it that I do not know. But what I do know breaks my heart. My friend and I were diagnosed just a day apart, yet our stories and cancers are very different. Like me, she is a mom with two beautiful little girls to fight for. The biggest difference is I am considered to be in … dare I say it… “remission” where she is still very much in the heat of her battle. She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Like me she initially chose chemo and although at times I felt as though the chemo was killing me… hers literally was. She went from running marathons to not even being able to lift her own head off of her pillow. She was only given, at best, 4 months to live so she chose to go off of the chemo and try her luck going a different direction. If she only had 4 months to live she didn’t want to spend it deathly ill and frankly, what did she have to lose? She chose to go a more natural route by dramatically adjusting her diet and today, although she still has stage 4 cancer… she’s ALIVE. She’s not sure what the future holds when it comes to treatments, but right now she is stable and that is a great place to be.
The even harder part to fathom in this story is that although I believe that in the beginning her marriage had the same passion, fear, and love that Brock and I had when I was diagnosed, our situations were very different. Although there were small moments of “what if’s” 90% of my journey was knowing that I was going to be okay. That I was going to live. My odds were in my favor. Hers were not. Although I feel like kicking her husband in the junk when I think about their current situation, the more rational side of me forces me to sit back and try to see it from both points of view.
I can not even imagine being told the news that my husband only had 4 months to live. To figure out what my future was suppose to consist of when the person I’ve always envisioned sharing it with will soon by cut from the picture. She was 27 at diagnosis. Together they had two very young children and I can only imagine the weight he felt on his shoulders. The pain, the confusion, the anger, the fear, the anxiety. To filter through all of those feelings and to feel the biggest low you’ve had to of ever felt in your life and then for that end not to come.
See to me this is where the story should be that “Happy Ever After”. Where their new love story can begin, but for them, more heartbreak laid ahead. I will be the first to admit that I do not know her husband… not even slightly. I have met him only once and he seems like a nice guy, but even in that short meeting it was very apparent that their wasn’t much of a bond left there. I don’t know what happened, what “clicked”, or what “went wrong”, but in my head the only way to make sense of this madness is to come up with a reason. So that’s what leads me to wonder if all of that emotional trauma lead him to completely and entirely, emotionally numb himself towards her. Maybe it’s just too hard to go through those feelings again so instead of working through the tough feelings,especially the possibility that although she is okay now… only God knows what the years ahead hold. Instead of having to go down that road again, to toy with those thoughts and feelings, I wonder if he’s shut them off completely?
I know that the months ahead for my friend are going to be far from easy, but I also see a day when this will be a distant memory of the past and I truly believe that if anyone can beat stage 4 cancer, she can. I admire her and look up to her so much and it makes me so sad to see someone so courageous put on a tough front, but when you look into their eyes you see that there is a lot of pain and hurt resting just bellow the surface. The eyes never lie.
I also know that if you can persevere through a cancer diagnosis, you can do anything you set your mind to. To every closed door, another one opens and I can not wait to see the blessings and prosperity that her future holds!
I love you girl!