The other day, my fiancé Kyle and I were laying on the couch talking about our upcoming wedding, in 2 months.
We had recently decided to write our own vows and he was nervously venting about how stressful it would be to get everything he wanted to say out of his head and onto paper, that could ever express how much I meant to him, and all that sappy stuff, in front of all of our friends and family no less.
I sighed jokingly at first, “I just can’t believe you want to marry me, with everything I come along with. When did you know you wanted to marry me?”
“In class that day,” he said.
There were two classes we took together in all of college. One was sign language, an 8AM class senior year, where we groggily rolled out of bed and signed our way through class. The other was earlier on in our relationship, Introduction to Healthcare Administration, where we sat next to one another.
In order to drive home the point of the importance of healthcare in our world, our professor talked about marriage vows during one of the first classes.
“What are the most important marriage vows?” he asked.
People raised their hands and recited different lines, until one person said “In sickness and in health.”
Trying to nail down his point, and perhaps challenge the class in an “I’m an adult and I know more than you” type of way, he asked “Would you marry someone with a chronic illness? What about someone who was going to die?”
The class went quiet for a few heartbeats, and I looked around, holding my breath. Next to me, Kyle’s hand shot up. “Absolutely,” he said, without looking at me, staring the professor straight in the eyes.
Up until that point, my professor was unaware he had a student with cystic fibrosis in his class, and knew not that the person who would marry that student was sitting right next to her.
But Kyle, still young and probably unaware of all the challenges my health would bring to our relationship, was certain from the beginning that he was ready to take them on.
And those challenges came. They came when I was uncertain about how long my life would be; when I would spend a night crying about how sick I was and all he could do was hold me; when I came home with an IV and he woke up at 4AM to make sure I got my meds in time; when I was exhausted and grumpy and unkind; when I wondered whether kids were really in our future (and still do).
But the fact is, these challenges have made us stronger. They have tested us, shown us our weaknesses, and brought out our strengths.
They have shown me that Kyle is stronger than I’ll ever be, steadfast in his love, and persistent in fighting CF alongside me.
And with the challenges came celebration: crossing the finish line with him during my first 10k; dancing in the car when I heard Orkambi was approved by the FDA, a drug that would change the course of my prognosis; hugging him and twirling around when my lung function tests got back up to a comforting place; and reaching all of the milestones that healthy people take for granted.
I never imagined I would be counting the months until my 27th birthday, with lungs that can still breathe as well as they do, with our own house to move into, a book to write, and a man to marry.
But here I am, blessed to have someone who was ready to go through this journey with me, from the beginning. And I have a feeling those vows will come easily for us.
Love is a crazy thing, it jumps out at you when you need it most, in the times in your life when you need a partner to go through whatever it is you’re dealing with in life.
I met Kyle at a time where I was managing my CF 95% on my own, and he, in a way, began to take on those reminders my parents would always give me, the venting they were always there for, and he took on the role of the person who would make me laugh just when I was about to cry.
Some would say that CF’s challenges can make life difficult, and put a strain on a relationship. But Kyle has never wavered, and neither has our love.