To the Man Who Loves Me Despite My Chronic Illness

When I met you, you were a little lost. You didn’t know what you wanted to do or where you wanted to go. I, however, had it all worked out; the city move, the study, the career. The more I got to know you the more I realized I wanted you above all other things. I ditched the city dreams and put the study on hold. I was 17 and had a world of possibilities in front of me, with no interest in settling down. You changed that though, somewhere between that dimpled smile and those luscious curls I changed my life plans – and it was the best decision of my life.

We were young and in love; perhaps sometimes a little foolish and naïve, but we made it work. I helped you find direction, and you helped me find purpose. I watched you transform into a man as you started a career and set long-term goals. I learned how to be not just a girlfriend, but a partner, as did you. We both grew up together, transitioning from kids in lust to adults in love. It was truly a magical experience.

couple kissing outside in front of trees

Over the years we realized a relationship is more than just loving the other person; it’s compromise, sacrifice and hard work. We learned that love is not what keeps two people together – a relationship needs so much more than just love to survive. We’ve been through some of the best times in our lives together and some of the worst. We’ve traveled and adventured. We have seen every good, bad and awful side of each other. We have loved each other for 1460 days.

Our relationship has been tested in many ways, sometimes getting close to the end, but there has never been a day where we didn’t say the words I love you to each other. In the past year, our relationship has struggled through its biggest challenges yet, and survived. If I didn’t know it before, I know it now – you are the man I want to spend every day for the rest of forever with. You didn’t need wedding vows to promise me “in sickness and in health” – you just did it. When given the chance to stay or run you decided to do both. You decided to stay with me and run to the ends of the earth to look after me; for this I can never thank you enough.

You have carried me, both physically and mentally, through my toughest days. You’ve cried with me through the emotional rollercoaster of chronic illness and reassured me every day that things will be OK. Sometimes I get so caught up in my struggle that I forget that it is also your struggle too. I can’t even begin to imagine what this is like for you. All I know is it can’t be easy.

I sometimes get caught up on how much better off you would be without me and the burden that is my illness – I know you’ve thought it too. But that’s OK because even though you know how much easier life would be with a “normal” and healthy partner, you choose to stay with me and for that I am eternally thankful.

I could spend forever apologizing for holding us back and forcing us to change our whole life plans, but that wouldn’t do either of us any favors. Instead of spending the rest of my life saying sorry, I want to spend it saying thank you. Thank you for holding my hand when I am scared, and pretending you are brave even though I know you’re just as scared.

Thank you for being patient with me when I am having a rough day. Thank you for telling me I am beautiful; not when I’m dressed up and wearing makeup, but when I’ve just woken up. Thank you for dedicating your life to making this relationship work and sacrificing so much for us.

There aren’t too many men that would do what you do, I hope you realize just how special you are. My only comfort some days is knowing I would do the same for you if our roles were reversed. I’m sure you wish you could take the burden of my illness from me as much as I wish I could take the burden of supporting my illness from you.

You fill my life with love, hope, courage and strength every day. I don’t know where I’d be today if it wasn’t for you. I love you millions.

This post originally appeared on Finding Rainbows in the Dark.

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