It is true that in several ways this round of chemo hasn't been as bad as the first. I have had less nausea, fewer headaches, and not as many days curled up in bed. In other ways, it has been more difficult. The fatigue I feel is extreme. It has been difficult to find the right balance of food for my system. And the emotional strain is more. So much more.
I was surprised yesterday when I looked in the mirror and saw a sick person staring back at me. There was no trace of the old laughter, love, or life in my face. Instead, I saw baldness, weariness, and sadness. How did that happen so fast? How did cancer jump in and steal my joy when I wasn't looking?
While I was studying my pitiful reflection and wondering what happened to ME, something even more surprising happened. My husband walked in behind me and told me I was beautiful. He kissed my bald head. He wrapped me up in his strong arms--those arms that are carrying the weight of the world right now--and held me close. He said over and over again that he loves me, and that cancer will never change that.
This man promised nearly 12 years ago to love me, no matter what. He promised to give me the best of himself, in good times or in bad. He promised to help me and protect me, in sickness and in health.
He is a man of his word.
And you know what is really amazing? He tells me that he's a little bit glad we are facing this disease together, because cancer is teaching him what love really is.
We were so young when we got married! We were fresh-faced and ready to take on the world. Sometimes, I take inventory of our life: house in the suburbs, SUV with a soccer ball rolling around in the backseat, 3 noisy little boys, 3 pets. Long gone are the days of sipping wine during a leisure Friday night dinner, or taking a whole weekend to watch the Rocky marathon on HBO. No doubt that he loved me then. But now...there's a whole different element to us. We never could have imagined that the fire we would walk through would be this hot. One thing's for sure, though: there is no one else I would want walking by my side.
Babe, there are not words that would be adequate to express everything you are to me. How you manage to maneuver through each day and still be yourself is beyond me. I love the man that you always have been, but especially the man that you are right now. When I need you the most, you amaze me...over and over and over again. Thank you for taking out IV lines and dispensing medications. Thank you for working so hard and traveling when you have to, even though I know you dread it. Thank you for spending so much extra time with the boys and making them feel like all is right with the world because their daddy will take them fishing. Thank you for making me feel safe, and loved, and still pretty. Thank you for being who God made you to be: the perfect one for me. I love you.