This morning my husband asked me if there is something I needed to tell him or ask him. It was before my first cup of coffee. The mental cylinders were not firing. My reply was, “Nope.” This is a common guessing game my husband plays with anyone willing participate. It’s part of his brain disease. He then reminded me it was our anniversary. He remembered, and I didn’t. Ironic.
Nineteen years ago today we stood in front of friends and family in the gigantic Cadet Chapel at West Point and committed our lives to each other. I completely forgot it was today. My brain was swirling with the daily tasks of getting our three kids up and off to school, looking in my teenage son’s throat to assess the level of soreness, hunting lost shoes, loading the dishwasher, and calming the six year old melting down because mommy said, “No YouTube before school.” Yeah. I mean like that.
At my husband’s reminder, my thoughts immediately shifted to 19 years ago. What was I doing that morning? No idea. What were my joys and fears? Distant memories. What I do remember is our vows. Our commitment to each other. Love.
My understanding of love has changed in nineteen years. It’s no longer the simple shared emotion of young people with a life full of promise, the wonder at starting a family. It’s not a Hallmark movie where the main characters share a cup of Joe in the local bookstore making ogling eyes at each other.
It’s trust, acceptance, tolerance, patience, and commitment. It’s honoring for better or worse, in sickness and in health.
Our love may not resemble yours. That doesn’t make it wrong. My husband is no longer the same man I married. He has changed in every way. So, it is a new love that has evolved. There is an absolute hate for the disease my husband has. Every stinking part of it. But, I still love the man. The man he once was. The man he is still desperately trying to be.
So, when you see us out and about, things may look tough. Tones may not be exactly right. Frustrations may be overflowing. Know that the foundation of us is still love. We’re a couple and family trying to navigate a very challenging disease. One that impacts memory, behavior, and physical changes. One that gives the appearance that the impacted is perfectly healthy. One that pushes the caregiver to the edge, often. One that robs the afflicted of emotions. So, one of us grieves. One of us carries the weight for both. It’s ok. It’s love.