A few weeks ago, days before our anniversary, my wife asked me one of those relationship test questions that all men dread (kidding… somewhat… )
“What is the best memory you have of me from our 9 years together?”
Seriously. I think I was in the middle of Game of Thrones when she asked. I hesitated and she took it upon herself to answer.
“Mine was when I told you that the IVF worked and we were pregnant.”
That was a really special memory for us. We had been told we’d never have kids about a year prior to that day. Heather had polycystic ovarian syndrome and I had virtually no sperm due to the years I had been on damaging Crohn’s Disease medication. We luckily had the best insurance ever at the time which paid for nearly half of the IVF procedure and then we were blessed to be part of a study that paid for a portion of the rest. We knew this was likely the only time we’d ever be able to “afford” to have kids, so all the eggs were in the basket, literally. All three of them to be exact.
The doctor told her, “Do not take a pregnancy test early because it’ll just discourage you if it’s negative. Please wait until such and such day so we know it’s accurate.”
However, In true Heather fashion, my impatient wife took the test early. I remember telling her not to do it. I wanted her to wait. I didn’t want her to get discouraged that we’d never be able to have kids. I truly thought the test would be negative. The odds were stacked against us. This couldn’t possibly work on the first time.
But she had so much faith that she was already pregnant the day off the egg transfer. She didn’t will herself to become pregnant, but I do believe her positivity helped make it happen. Like with everything she does, she does it with commanding positivity.
I remember waiting for the bad news in bed that morning. And then she came running in with the biggest smile on her face ever. “I’m pregnant!”
Positivity: 1. Negativity: 0.
Sometimes I wonder why she married me. My whole life I’ve always leaned negative. Even before all the health crises, I always saw the glass as half empty. I still fight it today. It’s funny how it took cancer to make me see more positivity in the world.
“So, what is your favorite memory of me?”
The first memory that popped in my head was a negative one. Go figure.
It was probably around the time of the 4th or 5th chemo treatment. Heather dragged me outside to walk around the block with the kids. I had absolutely no desire to be outside. I had no desire to do anything. All I wanted to do was lay down and think about how life was impossibly unfair. We were walking around the block as the kids were running in front of us and I said to her out of the blue.
“I want you to know that I have a life insurance policy at work of $___ when I die. I couldn’t get the larger amount because of having Crohn’s Disease, but this should help you for a while. I also get $___ through this policy as well. And you should probably sell the house.”
If you’ve never had to say any of that to your spouse, you’re lucky. I was obsessing over it for a few weeks prior and it all came out in a ramble. I’m not sure what she was thinking as I was planning what she should do when I’d die, but this is all she said to me…
“You’re not going to die.”
Like I said, She’s incredibly positive.
It didn’t start or end there. When I was going through every imaginable side effect to the chemo drugs – Headaches, Brain Fog, The worst jaw and teeth pain you could ever imagine whenever I’d take a bite of food. The worst heartburn which felt like a heart attack every 5-10 minutes for a week after every bi-weekly treatment. The dizziness. The throwing up. The loss of feeling in my hands and feet. The cold sensitivity. The utter disgust of all types of food. The overall pain. Through it all, her favorite thing to say to me was…
“I know it’s hard, but you can do hard things.”
Especially when it came to that God-Awful Incredibly Nutritious Oatmeal she made me eat. (Which I love now!). Every time she said those words I felt so angry at her positivity. But eventually all the positive energy began to erode my negative walls away and I could see through them again.
Positivity: 2. Negativity: 0.
When I was falling, she was lifting me back up. We had our fights through it all. She had her broken moments. We both did. But she was always there to remind me that she wasn’t going to let me give up that easily. She proved every day that she loved me when I was literally trying not to die. And when it came to making the hardest decision of our lives; to stop the gold-standard run-of-the-mill conventional treatments and try other ways to heal stage 4 cancer, she was right there with me helping me believe it was possible.
And it was possible.
She didn’t will me into a radical remission, but I do believe her positivity helped make it happen. She helped me see things from a different perspective. She helped me see the world as a place where extraordinary things are possible and happen every day.
I might have a recurrence of cancer right now, but I still believe we can find a way to live with it for a long time… and maybe even heal it one day.
And no matter what happens, she’ll find a way to see the brighter side.
And that’s my favorite memory of you. You helping me see that the world is such a beautiful place regardless of the circumstances.