Monday, July 26, 2010

My Choice


I was talking with someone tonight and they were telling me this story about a couple they knew who was going through a similar situation as us. Just, the guy had cancer but he wasn't diagnosed until about a year after they were married and they had a kid already, so it was a little different, but he ended up passing away from the disease. Anyway, they were talking about how they found themselves in that situation and how it was affecting them individually, and the man had said that he didn't think that if his wife had known he'd get sick before they were married, or if he had gotten sick before, that she would have stayed and gone through everything with him. Turns out he was right--his wife said that if she had known it would turn out like that, she wouldn't have done it. She apparently had said that she wasn't a strong person and the situation that they had found themselves faced with required strength and courage and it was more than she could handle, and she was only going through the motions of supporting her husband because she loved him.

I couldn't help thinking back to the months before you asked me to marry you and the talks that we had about you being worried of what you might be doing to my life by nailing me down into your world of cancer. I remember thinking at that point that I had made my decision to be with you a long long time before that and that by us getting married it wouldn't mean that I was anymore involved in the situation than I already was. I know I told you this too, because if you had thought that I agreed with the idea that getting married to you would seal my fate to be doomed to live this life of misery with you, you never would have considered marrying me.

When I was listening to this story about this other couple I thought to myself, at what point did I decide to go through this with you and to be there for you unconditionally? I thought, well maybe it was when you were first diagnosed and the doctors were saying how you needed someone to take care of you and stay close. And then I thought, no it was before that. It was at some point in our relationship that occurred before you were even diagnosed. When you were diagnosed, I had known that I was in love with you for a long time, and I don't know if I can pinpoint an exact moment when I knew that there was nothing I wouldn't do for you, but I do know now that by the time you were diagnosed, I had already made the decision that I wanted to stay by no matter what happened. I had never met anyone like you and no one made me feel the way about myself that you did, and I never felt the way about anyone else before that I felt about you. One look from your blue eyes and my heart would melt, and I knew how you felt about me, and how I felt about you, and I knew that no matter what could possibly happen, we'd have each other and that was all either of us would ever need.

And it turned out to be so true. All we had was each other, and it worked spectacularly for us. Whenever you relapsed or stopped responding to treatment or heard that another tumor was growing or that you needed another surgery, all we had was each other to fall back on, and it was enough. We each knew what the other was going through--I could understand your situation as the patient, and you understood my situation as the fearful caregiver, and we had each other's backs. I'd make sure you had everything you needed to go through your next round of chemotherapy, and you made sure I had everything I needed--you holding my hand through it all.

None of this makes anything any better, of course, and now that I don't have you anymore my entire world lies in shambles all around me. I can barely take it even one day at a time, sometimes just an hour is all I can manage of anything, but I find myself going around, trying to make sense of the piles and shards, and trying to put the pieces back together. There will be pieces missing--you took so many with you when you died. I will never have the complete picture and my life will never be whole ever again. But I'm trying.

I want you to know that I never doubted for a moment that being with you was what I wanted. Even after you were diagnosed and even after we had been through 4 different chemotherapies together, I never doubted for a second that I had made the right choice. Being without you would have been a devastating situation to find myself in, and being with you, even through the cancer, was so much better than being without you. And I still feel that way. If I had an opportunity to go and do the same situation over, or to go back in time and change my decision, I'd pick to go through it all over again, just so I could spend that time with you again. As terrible and horrifying as the situation often was, being with you was perfect, in every moment. I made the choice to stay when I found out what was coming. I had that opportunity to make that decision, and I'm sure, even now, that I made the right one. I know you always felt somewhat guilty about "putting me through" the things that we went through together, but I know that you also knew that I knew exactly (okay, maybe not exactly) what I was getting into when I decided to stay with you when you were diagnosed, or agreed to marry you when you proposed. And I hope that that knowledge gave you some peace during your tumultuous life because you knew that I just needed you and nothing else. My life is absolutely nothing like how I pictured it growing up or how I would like it to be, but it has the remnants of you all over it and I don't want that to be different. I'd just like you to be here with me.

I made my choice, and my choice was you. I wish I had been faced with different choices to make, but the choice I made gave us nearly 3 years together, and I'm amazed at how the worst time of my life was also the best. I miss you so incredibly much each day, and I love you more than anything in this world. I will always treasure our time together--all of it. I think about you so often, I hardly have room to think about anything else. I'm glad for the fact that you knew that I had made my choice, and that you knew that it was what I wanted, and not just something I had done for your sake. I'm glad you knew that I chose us.

I love you.

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