To the Love of My Life
It’s time I told you how much I love you.
We’ve known each other all our lives. You were such a beautiful baby, with those big curious eyes and silky skin. I was right there as you took your first steps and stumbled over your first words.
Before you were in school we ran around together. What a bundle of energy you were, chasing puppies and climbing everything there was to climb. On lazy summer days you picked dandelions and lay on your tummy for hours, hunting for bugs. You scraped your knees and got bitten by mosquitoes, but that didn’t squash your joy. The whole world was your discovery zone, and I was right there with you.
We sat together all the way through school. Sometimes you got antsy, but you really loved to learn, like all kids do. You asked the most wonderful questions, but they weren’t always answered in ways that made sense to you. Then there was the day you told your teacher you wanted to be an astronaut. She hesitated before she answered, and I could feel your throat tense and the tears burn behind your eyes as you wondered why she doubted you. I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but you started to hold your head just a little bit lower after that. You were the same amazing kid you always were, but it was harder for you to believe it from then on.
When you were a teenager, whoooeee – those were the days! Crazy friends, late nights, breaking every rule you could… and I was behind you all the way. The Cokes, fries and cigarettes were hard on me, but I was still young too and did my best to keep up. Life was exciting, and we didn’t want to miss it!
I was so proud of you as you got yourself through college and started to work. You were so eager to move up in the world – it was “yes!” to anything they asked you to do, any hours you had to keep. Some days were great, and others were gnarly. Remember when you thought you’d be laid off? Or those times you wanted to kick your boss’s butt? I remember – that’s when coffee and sugar joined your circle of best friends. I winced each time you chose to work overtime, or put off your vacation – I wanted to see you kick back and relax more often. Sometimes I tried to get your attention and tell you. But you were on a mission and didn’t have time for me.
You fell in love, and then along came the kids. I was so happy for you – your joy in being a Mom melted the stress of those sleepless nights. Then you had to go back to work to support the kids and the mortgage. Baby carriers became carpools, and play dates became soccer matches. There didn’t seem to be enough of you to meet everyone’s needs. I struggled too. I pitched in when I could, but I fell farther and farther behind as you and the family made do on fast food and adrenaline. Our weekend exercise dates became a distant memory as you shuttled the kids to team practices. When they got colds, we got colds too. You didn’t think you could afford to miss work so you pushed through, but each time it got harder and harder to recover.
Then Mom got sick. You felt like you were losing your mind, barely keeping up with her shopping and doctors’ appointments and all the worry. Sometimes you forgot to eat or drink, but my reminders didn’t get through. It made me sad to see you struggle out of bed, and so exhausted each night you could barely talk. You were on autopilot: waiting room vending machine here, triple Frappuccino there, anything just to make it through each day. I was depleted too, and as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t offer you much support anymore.
When you found out you had cancer, you were shocked and confused. What happened to me? After a lifetime together, why did I turn on you? As you plodded through treatment, you wondered if you’d ever trust me again.
If only I could explain.
But I wasn’t given the gift of words. All I can do is show you what I have to say, in ways that may or may not catch your attention. Tired? That’s me. Memory fuzzy? That’s me too. Cancer? I never would have done that if I could have helped it – I’m on your side! But after a while something spun out of my control.
For all that we’ve been through, I never stopped loving you and never will. Listen closely, and I’ll do my best to tell you what I need. I don’t have a choice – I depend on you for nourishment and healthy activity and to make sure we both get enough rest. And we both need breaks from the stress, so I implore you not to put off our massages.
Give me the attention I need, and you have my promise: I’ll do everything I can to keep you healthy and happy. That’s why I exist: to be there for you, every single day.
Love always from your forever friend and biggest fan,