Love. It is alive in every word given. In every touch shared. In every breath taken.
Love. It is timeless.
Love. It isn't easy.
Love. It is the core of who we are, and its reflection can be seen in the beauty, heartache, and in the hopes that fill our lives.
Love. It is the greatest thing any of us will ever know.
A Love found:
If I close my eyes, I can still see the bright blue eyes and dimples I fell in love with more than 12 years ago. It's the beginning of our story. Even then, I knew there was a unique depth and love within Mark. A love unlike any other. He is one of the very few people who has always been able to look me in the eyes and see who I really am. He's always been able to see beneath the façade I so perfectly have always tried to paint for the world. He has always seen me for me. He still does.
I think back to those early years. We would spend countless hours talking about the future and all its possibilities. Cystic fibrosis wasn't even a thought, let alone on the roadmap of our future plans. I can still feel that excitement for life and how anything seemed within reach. Life and love seemed so simple. How could I possibly know that behind it all was a love greater than I could have ever imagined?
I often think of what our life would be like without cystic fibrosis: what dreams we'd be chasing that we had talked of for hours 12 years ago, six years, or just two years ago. We've experienced a lot of life in these 12 years: they've held some of the most incredible and beautiful moments, and they've held some of the most heartbreaking. Through the best of days and the hardest of days though, Mark's love has always been steadfast. He never complains about the life we've been forced to embrace, but instead continues to tirelessly fight for another tomorrow together. Even when I look in the mirror and see pale skin, tired sunken eyes, hair that is falling out, a puffy face, and a body I don't recognize, my reflection in his eyes still tell me that I am beautiful no matter what. In the face of CF's progressive life stealing ugliness, he sees only beauty. He does the laundry, dishes, goes to the grocery store, cooks, makes countless runs to the pharmacy, preps antibiotics and gets up early just to help give me a break from the world of CF, and continues being a nurse long after he leaves his shift at the hospital. Not to mention he puts up with my sassiness, dries my tears, and unquestionably supports my dreams. He never gets upset. He just loves.
Heartbreak and hope:
But my heart can't help but break for Mark. At times I feel as if I have cheated him out of the life he really deserves and the love he is really worthy of. I think of how unfair it all is for him. What have I done to his life? After all, this is supposed to be the prime of our lives. I think of how our life used to be built upon spontaneity and our love for adventure: traveling every weekend, going out for supper or drinks with friends, running errands day after day. But now it is built upon keeping CF and its exhaustion in balance. That sleepless nights aren't caused by the cries of a new baby, but because of an alarm to change IV antibiotics again. We used to thrive on experiencing life together: constantly on the go. But now I often watch him go it alone. Nothing broke my heart more than when I am in the hospital he goes out to explore the city, always taking pictures and sending them back to me as if I were right there next to him. But I am not. I can't help but think of the life he'd have without me, and how CF is stealing the time we do have together. The love I have for Mark is unlike any other. Its depth is immeasurable and the gratitude I have for him is limitless.
What has Mark done to my life? Blessed it beyond measure and given it more joy than ever thought possible. The beauty of my life begins with the person who is willing to start and end every day with me no matter what we face, the person who is willing to endure every easy and difficult breath, and the person who is willing to fight at the chance for another tomorrow together. Could we have ever really known what the future would bring those 12 years ago? No, but that's what makes it our unique story: a story rooted in a love unlike any other. All we have is today, this very moment, and the memories that keep the fires of hope alive for tomorrow.