A couple weeks ago, in class, my professor was talking about what the most important wedding vows are… someone raised their hand “In sickness and in Health”. He then went on to ask how difficult it would be with someone whom you have to take care of. I believe his exact words were “Would you marry someone if you knew they were going to die? Or worse, live with a chronic illness all their life?” (Now, I won’t go into how closed minded his statement was, he obviously has never had a significant other who was dying OR who was living with a chronic illness all their life, otherwise, this wouldn’t have been so easy for him to say and he probably wouldn’t have thought a chronic illness was worse than dying… but thats besides the point). But he posed this question to the class, one that presumably is filled with healthy college students who have their whole lives ahead of them and who have never thought about this question.
But what he didn’t know is that a very special couple is in his class. My boyfriend Kyle and I sit right next to each other in this particular class, one that talks a lot about health and chronic illness. Though I usually tell all my professor’s about my cf, I haven’t felt right about telling this particular professor, because his worldview has come across as very different than mine, and with the amount of referencing and joking he’s done about chronic illness, at this point, it would be awkward to come out of the chronic illness closet. I’m not angry at him or anything, he has no idea so I can’t expect him to tip-toe around the topic, I’d rather he be honest with his opinions rather than changing them because someone like me is in his class. At this point, he would probably feel embarrassed [after one particular class he said “Have a good week! Hope you don’t get a chronic illness!] Instead, Kyle and I silently chuckle at some of the things he says “I could NEVER imagine dealing with something like that….” (I could), etc. (Hey, you should never assume that just because someone’s young that they are healthy and unwise) So when he asked that question, a question he expected to take us aback a little… Kyle’s hand shot up and he very seriously said “ABSOLUTELY.”
I felt so grateful at that moment. It takes a very strong type of person to feel so sure about being with someone like me, someone whose future is so uncertain and whose health requires a lot of regular maintenance. But we don’t look at it like that. I have always been one to live in the present, not worrying about what tomorrow might bring. That being said, I’ve never been one to procrastinate living because who knows how much time I’ll have to live (the same can be said about ANYONE really), and in the same sense, I never procrastinate loving. If I am lucky enough to have someone who isn’t afraid to commit to the uncertainty of my life, then I’m going to hold on to that.
What my professor may not have realized is, it isn’t so hard to love someone with a chronic illness. In fact, if anything, I think it makes our relationship stronger. Together, we don’t sweat the small stuff, we appreciate every moment together, and he gives me a huge incentive to keep myself as healthy as possible. This weekend, Kyle and I ran a 5k road race together, and I ran the fastest 5k time I’ve ever recorded, running 8:21 minute miles (thats FAST for me). I don’t know if I could have run that fast by myself, but with Kyle by my side, I am motivated to be my best, and in turn, my lungs feel GREAT!
What I’m getting at is, though you may wish for your life, or your relationships, to be perfect, it’s the imperfections that make life and love so worth it. Something as difficult as dealing with a chronic illness may seem like it would put a damper on life and love, but it does just the opposite. Something you may think will get in the way, often forces you to look at the reality of the situation. Yeah, I may not have the healthiest life ahead of me, but I have a healthy relationship with Kyle, and I am lucky to have someone to love me throughout it all, to commit to a life that may not be so cut and dry, and to be by my side in my race to be as healthy as I can be.