Love and devotion in the middle of a health crisis.
In sickness and in health. I don’t think I have ever truly appreciated what those words have meant until this year.
My father-in-law is a deacon in the Catholic Church and he officiated our wedding. During our marriage prep he asked me if I was ready. Confidently and naively I answered in the affirmative. He chuckled and said, “That’s the answer you’re supposed to give, but the real answer is no. No one is ever truly ready.” He was right.
Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate 19 years of marriage. I am different from the 23 year old woman who had stars in her eyes ready to marry the love of her life. The last 19 years have been hard. Marriage is work. If someone tells you differently, they probably haven’t been or won’t be married for very long. But it’s also worth it. Every bit.
The last 19 years have taught me about true love and devotion. While the flowers, the gifts, and the romantic dinners are nice, that’s not true love. It’s romance. And right now in the middle of a pandemic with all four of our children home every single hour of every single day, there’s not a lot of romance going on.
But there is love.
Over the last 19 years I love you has meant:
Going through each other’s hair at midnight because one of the children brought home lice and we’re pretty sure we have it, too.
Washing kid vomit sheets (again in the middle of the night because isn’t that when all vomiting happens?) while I gag in the corner.
Picking up dinner on the way home from work because I’m too tired to cook.
Taking all the kids out of the house so that one of us can get much needed work time or quiet time to rest.
Making sure there’s clean laundry for everyone the next day.
Washing the dishes and putting away the food because the other one cooked.
Encouraging my dream to become a writer.
Cheering on my husband as one of his big projects gets the recognition it deserves.
There’s more and too many to name.
But this year, I love you, has meant we’re in this together when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
This has been the scariest year of our lives. Not only do I have breast cancer, but I am going through treatments while we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Being in the middle of a pandemic means that my husband kisses me goodbye at the doors of the heath center instead of sitting with me during treatment.
As my energy has faded and I have spent more time in bed, I love you has been taking care of the kids, bringing me meals in bed, making dinner, and doing all the chores I used to do, while still working full-time.
I love you has been letting me cry when I don’t think I have the energy to go to one more appointment or go through one more procedure.
I love you has been quiet moments of reading next to me in bed and watching over me while I sleep fitfully.
I love you means we’re in it for the long haul.
On our wedding day our friends sang, The Servant Song by David Haas. It’s a fitting song when it comes to marriage. Marriage is about serving one another. The lines most befitting to this season in our lives:
I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the peace you long to hear
This last year has stretched us more than either of us could have ever imagined. There’s less bickering and a lot more grace. Each day is not guaranteed, but we can measure each day by the love we give…in sickness and in health.