In Sickness and in Health

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It’s been unusually quiet around our house for the last several days. Crystal has laryngitis. Normally, she has a lot to say to me each day.   Even now, her affliction won’t stop her from trying. I frequently have to mute the TV to hear my muted wife. Either that, or she picks up her tiny block of paper and we play a spirited game of ‘what’s that word’. This game has no winners, but generally leads to both laughter and coughing.

A visit to the Doctor a couple of days ago revealed that Crystal has bronchitis with a possible touch of pneumonia, in addition to the laryngitis. To add insult to injury, he told Crystal that the medicines might not help the laryngitis. She should try not talking for a few days (try is the operative word). Even our normally straight laced Doctor couldn’t help but joke about how difficult any limit on talking would be for most women. Happy New Year!!!

However, it made me think about our wedding vows. Like most guys, I remember saying whatever I was told, while thinking “ just a few hours until the honeymoon”. Just kidding (kind of)! But the truth is if I thought seriously about what those words, ‘sickness and health’ meant, I might have been a little more anxious about the whole marriage decision. Seriously, being normally healthy myself, I had no clue about what was to come.

I won’t bother with details about our health struggles except to say we are both cancer survivors. Mine, being linked to chemical exposure, forced a change in career paths. While I loved working in my chosen field of chemistry, I purposely avoided lab positions for about a twenty year period. This decision led to a number of career changes with all of the associated challenges.

Of the two of us, Crystal has had  more health issues over the years. However, I had some idea what I was signing up for. About a week before our wedding, I believe it was Easter Sunday; I got a call from Crystal’s dad. Crystal had been hospitalized for extreme abdominal pains. During that week, I visited as often as I could. When she was finally feeling better, there was talk about postponing the wedding. I immediately knew that was wrong. I gave Crystal one of the very few ultimatums I would ever give. I didn’t care who was present, Doctors, parents, etc. I shut that talk down. I told her we would be married on Saturday. I left the decision of whether that would be in a church or in the hospital up to her. I would make it happen. To make a long story short, that was what she needed to hear. We were married in the church followed by a reception, and the following day, our honeymoon started in Arizona.

The point of this article is simple. In life, bad stuff is going to happen. The wedding vows make that clear: sickness, bad times, poorer, and eventually death. You can choose to go through life independently or with someone. When you make the decision to get married, it’s no longer my problems, but our problems. But it’s also a chance to serve and be served; to support and be supported. Why else are we really here?

Marriage is a decision to be made with eyes wide open. But I will tell you this. On April 1st  this year, Crystal and I will be married 40 years. When I look back, I find it more difficult to remember the ‘sickness’ than all of the good times we have experienced together.

Crystal’s Corner:

I have not had laryngitis as bad as this case in the past.  I hope that I get my voice back soon.  Ron is having way too much fun with this.  We are doing a comedy act of combining charades and him trying to read my writing.  But we are still communicating which is so important in marriage.  When I got very sick before our wedding and had to be hospitalized, it was very scary.  My parents took me to the hospital early in the morning and my dad waited to call Ron to tell him what was going on.  When he came, I was on a cart in the Emergency room.  I guess my facial expression changed when I saw him because the nurses said “This is the fiancé.”  I just knew I wanted him there with me to help get me through this horrible situation.  I had been sick for months and had seen the Dr. but the Dr. told me I just had a nervous stomach because I was getting married. Actually, I had a serious disease.  Ron, being an only child, coming from a very healthy family, had not experienced the medical world like I had growing up.  The really good thing was that we fought my illnesses and his illnesses together and with the help of God and many praying people.  It has been quite a journey, but it also shows that God brought us together for a reason and helped us to keep getting stronger in our marriage and commitment.  Ron is taking good care of me even though his teasing has gotten worse since I can’t talk.  This wasn’t the way I wanted to start the New Year, but I am glad we are enjoying our life together no matter what happens.

Three pregnancies and births counted as sickness (nausea, vomiting, pain, imbalance, emotional instability, etc.)  in my book as well. However, I believe in those cases the ends definitely justified the means. I also like to think I helped.

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