Roz and I celebrated 47 years of marriage this week. We have known each other for almost 60 years. So it is no understatement to say that we think of each other as life partners.
We have had a remarkable journey together. We married young (at least by today's expectations) and immediately moved over 1000 miles away from our families. We really did not have a marriage model we considered right for us in our family experiences, so set out, in fits and starts, to build our own. Some days were not so pretty as we each grew up and became comfortable building our individual and joint lives.
While the year since my ALS diagnosis has been no picnic, I think it fair to say that our marriage and our love have never been stronger. Roz nursed me though a scary bout of pneumonia in central Turkey with courage and humor. Despite that trip we did make a wonderful return visit to London and Paris this summer. We navigated tricky finances to be able to retire with security. We dealt with emotionally-laden family situations successfully. And we are learning to accommodate my new and growing limitations.
Through all this I think the greatest asset we have had as a couple (and as a family) has been honesty. From the first moments last summer when we suspected what was happening to me, we have tried hard to face our new reality and choices without hiding or denial. No "brave faces" required - we cry, moan, laugh and play together as we are moved.
That openness and honesty has been an important cornerstone of our whole married life. And it appears we have learned it well as we are seriously tested now but have risen to the occasion.
Not to say any of this is easy. If it were we would not have needed 47 years to prepare.
So while on the subject of preparation, on one of my darker days this week I started making a list of things I missed. Here it is:
Things I miss
Popeyes spicy chicken
Bagels and lox
Eating an apple
Corn on the cob
Cheerios with banana
Notice how many of them are food-related? Notice how many are foods I am well-advised to avoid anyway. See, its all mixed blessing.
Notice as well that none of them have to do with missing the intimate contacts with family and friends. Well, except kissing, but we are learning to substitute hugs and that works.
So that is the gift Roz and I exchange every day - the love and honesty and courage to face our lives with loyalty, energy and a positive attitude. It has not always been easy getting here all these years, but it has been fun. And if we can be role models for others, so much the better.