To My Partner Who Shares the Burden of My Chronic Pain
What people don’t tell you when they are chronically ill is how hard it is for your loved ones. Sure, being sick is horrific for the one who lives it, breathes it, stews in it. But your partner also gets such a raw end of the deal. They also wake up with the pain. They watch, they listen, they soothe. But honestly, who comforts them?
I have always known Mike to be a true and honest person. We’ve known each other 16 years (we met at band camp!) and I am, without fail, consistently surprised by his honor and loyalty to others. It is one thing to love someone. But it is an entirely separate beast to respect them. Respect is earned. It is honed. It is savored. And I so dearly cherish that part of our relationship.
I have put Mike through the ringer this past year – two grueling surgeries followed by even more chaotic recoveries (one even came with a surprise bout of facial paralysis!). But his reaction has been nothing but compassion, selflessness and sacrifice to make sure that my days are lived, loved and meaningful. I am reminded, so very often, that my burden is shared. It is accepted. It is understood.
Let me tell you a story. In 2011, I had a really terrible kidney infection. It required a several-day stint in a not-so-fabulous hospital. I don’t think Mike slept for three days straight, constantly tending to my bedside and even cutting deals with the nursing staff to steal me a few extra minutes of sleep while they did their A.M. rounds. My takeaway? Not the pain. But instead, my gratitude to have such an advocate by my side. (He even snuck in a heap of bacon one morning from the bodega across the street. What a find!)
I have learned so much about love over the years. The kind of love that accepts you. The kind of love that feeds you. The kind of love that lifts you. True love isn’t extravagant. It is something so much deeper. And it often shows itself best when you are at your worst.
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