When I woke up this morning and staggered into the kitchen to make some tea, I was greeted by this bouquet of roses and three cards, one of which had an eloquent and very touching message handwritten by my husband Michael, a man not given to writing more than items on a shopping list.
It’s been 20 years since our wedding at Stonehenge, the charming country inn in Ridgefield, CT, and what an adventure this marriage has been. Had I even heard of Crohn’s Disease when I met Michael? No. When he told me he had it but was in remission, did I pay much attention? No. When he was rushed to the hospital for what would become 20 years full of trips to the ER, did I bolt? No.
I was either in denial or wildly in love or both.
And now here we are, married for 20 years today. I’ve been fighting a cold but Michael’s been fighting Crohn’s since he was 11 and the past couple of weeks haven’t been a good patch for him. He’s had nearly 100 hospitalizations since he was diagnosed and maybe 30 surgeries, but somehow he manages to soldier on, do the best he can, be a husband, have a life. He’s my hero.
He’s also about to get his close-up when YOU’D BETTER NOT DIE OR I’LL KILL YOU comes out next month. When he read the manuscript before I turned it in to my editor, there were sections that made him uncomfortable. He felt exposed and thought a few of my anecdotes were just a little too candid. I was perfectly fine with pulling them out of the book, but then he said, “On second thought, if they’ll help someone else, leave them in.” Another reason I’m glad I’m married to him.
In the old days, before I really understood what caregiving was about, I used to pout when we’d have to cancel celebratory dinners because he wasn’t feeling well enough to go out. I resented the limitations his chronic illness put on our social life, felt deprived of the kind of freedom I assumed other couples enjoyed. Now I accept those limitations and simply work around them. I’ve also learned not to plan too far ahead, or if I do make dates I make them with people who understand if we have to beg off at the last minute.
So maybe we’ll go out for our anniversary tonight and maybe we won’t. Either way, we’ll be celebrating our marriage and how many obstacles we’ve overcome.