I decided I was ready to find “the one”, because I was sick of carrying in my own groceries.
My 25 year old arms lined in plastic bags cutting my skin to guarantee I’d make it up the stairs all in one trip and I remember thinking, ‘Yep, this is why I need a boyfriend’.
I wanted to find someone so I wouldn’t be lonely on Sundays and so they could buy me Christmas gifts. I wanted love so I wouldn’t have to put in the work to find the right person. Everything I knew about love involved what that person could do for ME, add to MY life and what I could get out of the relationship.
5 years ago this weekend, I fell in love with Joe.
It was the first time I had a taste of what real love is. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the way he sent me flowers to work and picked me up at the airport with a red rose, but it was the first time I’d known it was about more than just what someone did for me. I changed the way I made decisions because I couldn’t stand the thought of ever hurting him.
Those were some of the happiest days of my life and the days I’ll tell my daughter about when she asks me about her dad.
Our love has grown and changed like most couples but becoming someone’s caretaker is a whole new level of marriage I don’t think I ever considered. Now I know that there is no greater love, no greater honor than taking care of the one you love.
To know that I am the one he trusts to walk behind him so he doesn’t fall. I’m the hand he wants to hold when he’s scared in the hospital. I’m the person he trusts to keep track of his medicines and protect him from what’s going to happen.
I’m the one who now carries in the groceries, though he still hates the way I load the fridge. There are moments I think this isn’t what I signed up for and other moments that I realize I’ve gotten so much more.
I’ve learned that love is not about what you get, it’s about what you are willing to give.
I sat on the ledge of the bath tub helping Joe managed tubes and pain packs. Trying to get yourself clean while trying not to get wet is a challenge. I looked at his thin body and can’t help but feel my heart break for everything he has to deal with daily.
Joe looked up at me, in the midst of his own chaos just trying to take a bath and said, “I’m just so sorry you’re missing your brother’s wedding today. I’m so sorry this is happening.”
My heart sunk as I worried about him but realized he was just as worried about me. That’s love my friends. The real kind.
Joe’s body is getting weak. He’s sleeping more, he’s eating less. He’s dependent on his medications to keep him calm, keep him comfortable. He tells me he loves me at least 100 times a day. I hear him moan in his sleep and I come running. There are moments I want it to be over, I don’t want to see him hurting and the anticipation of when it’s going to happen makes every day a mix of joy because he’s here and heartache because you know he won’t be.
He’s still in there though. Is it crazy to say he still makes my heart flutter? He told me I need to cool my jets as I tried to lure him to spoon with me. But he’ll roll his eyes or kiss me on the top of my head and I feel the same flirtatious love we’ve always had.
I sent him a text from upstairs this week that said, “I’m googling signs of depression up here- I think I have it”.
He responded quickly with, “I’m googling weird things that happen to your penis, you should come see some of these pictures.”
I laughed and told him I was going to write a blog titled weird things you google when dealing with cancer. It should be a best seller.
Oh, my sweet Joe. Thank you for teaching me about love, real, self-less love. How lucky I am that I got to be your wife.