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To My Husband,

The girls are jumping on your belly smothering you with kisses, they have donned you with hat of some sort and placed a tea cup in your hand. Your smile is big as ever, and bright, showing this is exactly where you want to be. I sit on the couch and watch this all transpire, wishing I had the energy to join the wrestling match of snuggles.

You amaze me. Our marriage, just like every other has not been a cake walk, but we’ve always been dedicated. We knew what we wanted and we knew our friendship was the beginning of the bloom of our marriage. We try our best to keep Jesus at our core, to learn from him in how we grow together. In the last eight years, we have done so much: we traveled as far as Hawaii, moved to Colorado twice, found our happy place in Northern Michigan, ate everything from Rocky Mountain Oysters, to Foie Gras Custard, to Bison Prime Rib, to smoked white fish pate, to triple cherry ice cream, to apres ski pizza, to an Emu burger, we’ve climbed mountains, camped in Telluride, camped in our car, took frozen showers, picked cherries, ran down the Sleeping Bear Dunes (and climbed back up again), we toasted with champagne at sunsets, had high teas, and danced to our song on a cliff side, on the back porch and in the kitchen. We’ve fought and argued and said things that we shouldn’t say. We cuddled close and forgave and brought babies into this world. We’ve had sleepless nights, and spit up and runny noses galore. We have stared at each other from across the room with utter exhaustion. But once those words were mentioned, it changed everything. Something about our marriage stopped, and began again. You changed. I changed. Our world changed when I was diagnosed with cancer.

You never asked for this to be part of your life. You never asked to be a caregiver to your wife or to take over parenting 80% of the time for two small children. You never asked to consider having to raise two little girls without their mommy. Or to even think about having to plan your wife’s funeral. But you jumped in head first without skipping a beat to fight this fight with me having only one outcome in mind.

Your alarm goes off daily to remind you of my medicine and supplements (because Lord knows with chemo brain I cannot remember a thing.) You make sure I eat, and when I don't want to eat as healthy as I should you lovingly encourage me to eat the avocado instead of the 100th slice of cheese. You are there to hold me at night when I start to shake from crying over this horrible hand of cards I was dealt. You urge me to write and stay close to Jesus, to welcome my sorrow feelings but get back to my positive self as soon as I can. You let me vent about how crappy this is. You remind me to go on walks, to keep my muscles and body strong, even when my energy is low.

Our whole marriage has flourished in a truly incredible way in the past few weeks despite being together just short of a decade. After this year I think our marriage will be iron clad. We will have faced things most couples won't ever face in their marriage, or if they do it is much later in life. And the beauty in this beast is that once we push through this year, we have so much more life to live. We have been given a chance to see how life truly should be seen, to live life how it was meant to be lived. You will see me at my very lowest, and then built back up again. We very quickly care less about stuff and want to explore the world together and with our girls. We worry less, when faced this massive of an obstacle in life, faith is tested. One of the first things Jesus preaches is not to worry, to give your fears to Christ. To let God, fight your battles, and in this one we breathe easier than we ever have financially. We have people that have been called to help us, our village helping us fulfill all our needs, we pray daily that God will provide. And we just have to trust that everything will be okay. We have to focus on what's at hand right now, my health.

Thank you for being my knight in shining armor. You protect me and nurture me. You find every opportunity to cuddle with me and be near me and hold my hand. You walk into the infusion appointments with me and dote on my every move. You have notebook after notebook, schedules, receipts, files, you’ve kept to help keep this whole ordeal a tad more organized. You haven’t faltered once with thoughts of me losing my hair, being quite sick, losing my breasts, possibly not being able to have more children. You have been so focused on my well-being and what we need to do to make me the healthiest the fastest. Your biggest concern from the start was for me to be cancer free. A survivor.

You have so much patience with the girls, you get down on the floor and play with them, you teach them and are always thinking of ways to make their lives better. I love you more each time I see you interact with them.

I know we’ve just begun this fight. I know we have a mountain ahead of us to climb…(pretty sure this is the equivalent to Mt. Everest.) But at the starting line, I am so full of gratitude and love for you and for our family. I dream of when we can wake up in our down comforter bed overlooking the lake, me with a healed, happy body, brewing the perfect cup of hot coffee and the girls tumbling out of their beds with sleepy eyes and happy smiles. Making pancakes and eggs, ready for a day at the beach with cousins. I dream of when just you and I wake up on the coast of Italy to an espresso and sink our feet into the Mediterranean Sea.

Despite the pain, the trauma, the nauseas, the headaches, the disorientation, the hair loss, the surgeries, the bone pain, the pokes, and prods, the discomfort, and the Devil even trying to tell me I can’t do this, I am grateful to have a new perspective on life. And you my darling make life so sweet. When I hear Frank Sinatra sing, “The Best is Yet to Come,” I feel as if it is lyrics to our life…because darling we’ve only just begun.

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