My aunt texted me that question last Saturday. “You know you have a great husband, right?”
I do have a great husband. He is my Prince Charming…a saint for dealing with me and for being with me for twenty years. He puts everyone else ahead of him. As his aunt said to me in an email this week, A is “quiet but oh so loving and caring.” And, he is. I know I’m incredibly lucky to have him, and truthfully, I don’t know what I would do without him. He is my rock, and he has been my rock even more so since this roller coaster began.
I met A when I was 16. We went to the same high school, and while he is a little younger than me, we had an extracurricular class, choir, together. He sang bass, and his row of basses sat in front of my row of second sopranos. He sat directly in front of me. I thought he was funny the few times he turned around and talked to me, or any of the girls sitting around me. We didn’t really say much to each other or talk to each other too much, but when we did, I knew I liked him. He didn’t have a problem being honest with people, and he called things the way he saw them. I respected that, even when it was directed at me. One day towards the end of the school year, I blew a sight reading line test. I absolutely blew it and was convinced my choir director was going to bump me down a level. I sat on the steps of the choir room and fumed while the rest of my class tested. My friends tried to talk to me about it, but I was ticked, so they left me alone. Except A. He came over, sat down besides me, and told me to get over it…everyone would screw up a sight reading line at some point…she (our choir director) wasn’t going to bump me down. And, he ended it by telling me to stop being a bitch to my friends because they were only trying to help. Then, he walked off, and my friends grinned. I respected him for what he said (and, I was being a bitch to my friends because I was mad at myself).
Once summer began, I didn’t see him until August when our choir director sent out a mailer informing all Acapella choir members we had a pre-school year meeting one Thursday night and it was imperative that we bring at least one of our parents or guardians. As soon as I got the meeting, I looked for him, but truthfully, I was more concerned about finding my three friends who I’d been in choir with throughout all of high school and had most of my classes with them. I wanted to know if they’d done the summer reading assignment for our AP English Lit class and what they thought of the books (we’d been assigned to read Lord of the Flies and Brave New World). I found them, abandoned my mom, who had come with me to the meeting, and went to talk to them. I waved at A, but I really wanted to catch up with my friends. I didn’t live in the same town as the high school I went to, my school district encompasses three towns, and most of my school friends lived fairly far away from me.
Once the school year started, I had choir with A and that was it, but that was enough. We became good friends, and by October of that school year, we were dating. And, the rest, they say, is history. We dated throughout the rest of high school and college. We broke up a few times here and there, usually with great drama on my part, but we always ended up back together. We married after we graduated from college, moved back to my hometown, got jobs, bought a house, had two kids, and pretty much lived the dream life I wanted for myself as a kid.
To an extent, we still do live the dream life I wanted for myself as a kid. We both work careers where we impact lives. We can pay our bills. We can give our kids the things they need, and sometimes, the things they want. We are close to family and friends. But, since this roller coaster started last year when I told A I could feel something in my left breast, and I was scared, our lives have changed. We have changed as people. A has always been a great husband, but over the last five months, he has been more than great. He’s been incredible. He’s been amazing. He’s held me when I’ve cried and listened when I’ve ranted and raged and held my hand when I’ve been nervous or scared and comforted me when I’ve been scared and advocated when I’ve needed someone to speak for me. He’s taken care of our children, lined up help for me, found childcare for our children when needed, cooked dinner, done the laundry, cleaned the house, vacuumed and cleaned the carpets, gone to parent conferences, come to every appointment, bought a recliner for me, shopped for Christmas and birthdays. He’s done all of this while commuting an hour each way to work Monday through Friday, and some Saturdays, and while working in a career where 50 hour work weeks are the norm and 70 hour weeks aren’t unusual. If he’s going to be late, he makes sure there is help there when I need it (and sometimes, even when I don’t think I need it, but he thinks I do). He checks in every afternoon to make sure I’m really okay on the days when I text him and tell him I’m okay.
A has his flaws. We all do. He forgets things from time to time. He gets frustrated and overwhelmed from time to time. He gets annoyed with all of us and needs some time to himself from time to time. He’s human, and sometimes, I forget he’s not superman.
I know cancer can tear relationships apart. I know I’m lucky to have a husband like him who has not, not once, said this is too much. This is too hard. I’ve said those things on days when treatment has me feeling terrible, or I’m in the throes of side effects and miserable. And, he has sat beside me and told me it’s too much in that moment. It’s too hard in that moment. I know he has cried over my diagnosis. I know he has been angry over my diagnosis. I know there have been times he’s had to have thought this is too much or too hard. But, he’s never said those things to me. Instead he asks what can he do for me or how can he help.
What he doesn’t understand is by just being who he is, that’s what he can do for me or how he can help me. Just be A.