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To My Dad and Fiancé, Who Accept My Chronic Illness With Strength and Love

Dear Dad,

Thank you for accepting my chronic illness with strength and love. Thank you for showing me how to keep that little funny, quirky bit of me that you put there, even though there are days it is so hard to smile through the pain. Thank you for the time you came hundreds of miles to see my dream come true, even if you weren’t feeling well that day. Thank you for showing me so many life lessons that made me the woman I am today. And thank you for marrying my stepmom. She’s a real mom by choice. It has been through your relationship with her that I have been able to see how I desire my own relationship to be.

Through your own chronic pain, you have shown me the importance of a simple, peaceful, and mindful life. I know there was a time when I didn’t understand. A time when I was angry or resentful because I thought you should be able to do more. I see now that you probably were, too. And I love you more because through so many emotional tolls that chronic illness has taken upon me, I do not have to feel the emotional pain that some others might when their family just can’t grasp chronic illness. I’ve not told you enough, thank you.

Grace and her fiancé
Grace and her fiancé.

To My Dear Beloved,

Thank you as well for accepting my chronic illness with strength and love. Thank you for reminding me daily to lighten my load emotionally and physically. Thank you for stepping into a tempest and soothing it with daily laughter and quiet sentiment. Thank you for sitting beside my bed in the hospital so many times with that worried look you tried to hide. Thank you for the countless times you have made sure I was completely comfortable, without another unspoken request.

Thank you for being ready to commit to a lifetime of chronic illness — doctor’s visits and late night emergency room trips and reading through medication side effects and discussing potential impacts. A lifetime of plans changing at the last minute, of social events missed, of advocating for me and with me.

Thank you for encouraging me to be the real me, for accepting my flaws and my disease without imposing guilt, and pushing me to strive for ways to overcome or circumvent what I feel are my weaknesses.

You are a rare gem in this world. You have shown me that I do not need to be perfect to be loved. That my illness does not make me less desirable. That my illness doesn’t have to limit my dreams. That it’s OK to let go of some things in order to make a simpler, yet fuller, life. And that even though I am still fully capable of handling life on my own, I don’t have to.

I try to tell you this sometimes, and I never can quite find the words. When I say thank you and you think you’ve not done anything deserving of gratitude, it is all of the above.

A version of this story previously appeared on Oh What a Beautiful Morning.

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