44. The love in and of my life...or Cancer : the unlikely love elixir
“You might want to get out now” I told Collin.
It was September 2008, and I had just learned, that my mom’s AL Amyloidosis had represented and based on the pathology it was worse. In fact it was 1000x worse.
“ I don’t know what this means, or if i’ll have to leave or what, but I know I’m probably going to be a nightmare to be around , and it isn’t going to be pretty.”
“If you’re trying to scare me “ he said, “You’re gonna have to do a hell of a lot better”.
Full Disclosure? I kinda wanted him to leave. Mostly because I knew what a hell storm this disease could be, and I was used to dealing with this stuff on my own. Also? The whole fledgling relationship was semi-freaking me the fuck out. The girl who said she’d probably never marry or have kids, had a voice deep inside inside whispering “You are going to marry this guy.” This, was not something I had contemplated happening. Only a few months out of a nine- year relationship, why jump back in.
As I’ve said before , the thing about major life events is they put things in a laser-like perspective. When they occur at the beginning of a relationship, it tells you REAL FAST what kind of person your potential partner is. So when eight months later my mom died, and he sat simply with me asking quietly “What I needed” I knew that voice wasn’t lying.
Through the last decade, we have contended with stressors small and large: Work or the lack of it, having to sell out house because we couldn’t afford it, the death of BOTH of my parents. And while the first half of this decade together felt like one proverbial shoe dropping after the other, through each crappy part there has been no other co-pilot I would rather have.
Because I don’t know where I could find someone who so disarmingly and lovingly charms both senior citizens and toddlers, while maintaining the darkest of wits. Whose level headed compassion has served as non-judgemental respite for so many souls looking for an ear. Whose creative capacity and inner drive inspires as it holds equal space to cheer loudly for my success and the success of friends. Whose humor and temperament have made ,what could be the truly most awful of days ,some of the joyous and most memorable of my life. And don’t get me started on his ass ;) .
So when this cancer train started, there was one thing I was certain of, that I had the right partner for this ride. What I didn’t realize ( which, I mean, come on, there’s been a lot going on ) in the midst of feeling sick, tired, and frankly really “unsexy”, is how I would fall in love over and over again with this man I secretly hoped would go away all those years ago.
How his semi- uncomfortable presence at a “pre-mastectomy” class would make me feel at ease.
How the doctors and nurses would ask after him in the few appointments he missed because our relative “comedy duo” was a bright spot in their day .
How the other infusion patients would swoon, because of his minor assistance.
How the “breast cancer store” ladies giggled at his honest interested questions about fake nipples and vaginal stretchers. ( that’s a subject for another entry.)
How the unasked for delivery of Gatorade and popsicles was better than any diamond
How despite being hairless, nippleless, and sexually dry as a desert (yeah the potential nausea is not the worst side effect specifically mentally) I still felt beautiful and desirable, rather than a “sick patient.”
How in the biggest of steroid mood swings, and they are huge, he’d hold space and give me the space I needed.
As i’ve talked with other survivors, and other breast cancer patients, the revelations are both striking and heartbreaking. They say 50 % of marriages don’t survive a cancer diagnosis.
My experience is not common, if anything it’s a bit of an outlier, but the only credit I can give is to the guys who just over ten years ago drunkenly asked for my number, and tried to woo me with promises of WGA screeners and free laundry.
I’m glad I took him up on it .