To the Woman Who Loves Me and My Chronic Illness

When we met I was newly diagnosed and spent the better part of my days between hospital beds and my couch. Just a few months prior, my whole world had been turned upside down. I was forced to withdraw from college, forfeit my dream internship, and move home to my parent’s house. Not only was I battling this new illness I had never heard of prior to my diagnosis, I was also grieving. Everything I knew changed and every plan I had for myself was ripped from my finger tips. I began to resign myself to the fact I would never find someone to love me. It was bad enough watching my family get swept into the mad chaos and uncertainty of chronic illness, how could I ever ask someone to willingly step into that mess with me?

But then I found you. If I made a list of every attribute I wished for in a partner, you had them all checked off and more. You were too good to be true. I told you right away how sick I was. I figured it would be easier to watch you go sooner than later, but you stayed. You took my hand, saw the darkness ahead, and said, “Don’t worry, we’re in this together,” and you meant it. You made the drive every weekend to come visit me even if we were confined to my bed watching Netflix all day. When I felt well enough, you planned incredibly thoughtful activities for us to do together. You knew my limits and you never pushed me. Instead you took the weight off my shoulders and said, “Let me help you.” But you didn’t baby me either and when you knew I was strong enough to accomplish something, you cheered me on and encouraged me every step of the way. You made it very clear that you didn’t see my illness: you saw me and my illness just happened to be a part of who I was. You were there through it all — getting a GJ feeding tube, being too weak to leave the house, yo-yoing to each extreme with my weight due to medications and treatments, and having panic attacks in your arms to going back to college to finish my degree, starting my own little business, and finally learning to cope with my new “normal.”

The past three-and-a-half-years have been, for lack of a more clever analogy, a roller coaster. Not only did you hold my hand through the ups and the downs, you acted as the bar that held me in my seat. Without you, who knows where I would be. I think it’s safe to say we both knew going into this it wasn’t going to be easy, but I also think it’s safe to say you couldn’t love me more perfectly. Thank you for loving me and my illness. The unconditional love that pours out of your heart and soul leaves me constantly overwhelmed with the amount of gratitude and respect I have for you. I have never know a human being so undeniably full of all the things that are good in this world. My chronic illness will always be taking me on never-ending loops and pushing me full speed ahead down steep drops, but I know you will always be here. Hand-in-hand. And if you ask me, that’s the best kind of medicine.

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