You need to recognize the value of your marriage, and LEAN IN to it fully. Before it’s too late.
We went to San Francisco for a weekend away. It was a beautiful weekend, on our wedding anniversary, and the weather was perfect. We were staying in a fancy hotel that we never slept in. We spent the night in the ICU of a local hospital instead.
I had never been so scared. Jason was bad off, and it was the first time I ever realized that one day I’ll lose him. We are both relatively healthy and this was the first brush with death in the duration of our relationship. There have been other incidents, sure, but nothing that was that close to the line.
I spent that whole time praying, worried, being strong and trying not to let my worry for him show so that he could be comfortable and rest. It’s kind of ridiculous to both of us that what sent him there was an allergic reaction to food. We still aren’t sure exactly what the catalyst was, because we had eaten food with a lot of ingredients just before the incident. What we do know is that now he is definitely allergic to peanuts and seaweed. The seaweed is easy to stay away from, peanuts are sneaky, so that’s been more of a challenge for sure.
He lived, obviously, and now we do have some funny stories about it, now that the fear has subsided a couple of years after the fact. I spent that night curled up on two small chairs in that ICU room in San Francisco, and taking Uber back and forth between the hospital, the pharmacy, and our hotel. I had to go grab a shirt for him because the paramedics had cut his off and he didn’t have anything to wear.
My purse broke while we were there, so I was carrying around a lifeless bag and a shirt for awhile, and we were both such a mess for different reasons. We did go see the Giants play though, so that was a definite highlight. We ended up taking an Uber straight from the hospital to the game. We decided not to let a little ICU visit ruin our vacation, after all. We arrived back home exhausted from travel, but more than that, with epipens and gratefulness that he lived.
Fast forward 2 years….
Two years later, I had an anaphylactic reaction of my own, and we spent another evening in the ER together. It was equally scary as the first instance. That was the first night Jason asked what I needed from him, as I laid in the hospital bed, red from head to toe from the rash, and completely out of my mind from all the medications I was on (steroids, I’m talking to you, you bastards). My answer? I said, ‘This. I just need you to be here with me.’ He did just that. He held my hand, he calmed my anxiety, and we prayed together.
While Jason’s issue was much more severe when it happened, my recovery was much longer than Jason’s did physically. Over the next couple of weeks after I came home, dealing with asthma attacks, hives, and exhaustion, we had a lot of time to spend together talking, praying. We sat in our living room for days on end, and I had taken up residence on the couch, so it became our place. He really had take care of everything because I was so weak, which wasn’t fair at all, but he did it willingly and selflessly.
I am now also the proud owner of an epipen, nice gift.
Lean in to your marriage – don’t wait.
I realized the trite truth after both of these incidents, the one that I avoid thinking about most of the time. We will both die one day. For Jason and I, one of us will die first, or we will both die together. If, by the way, you ever do find us dead, look for a jar of peanuts, and a bottle of antibiotics – you’ll know we did ourselves in. We won’t do that though, it would be a terrible way to die, and I don’t want to have a rash when I’m dead. I want to have my coloring just right for the casket.
I don’t know how I’ll make it if he dies first, and I know he will have an equally hard time pressing forward if it’s me that kicks the bucket first. It’s the hard reality that we pour our love in to relationships and then we die. It’s held me back at times from fully experiencing what this life has to offer, because I know that love comes pain at the end of the day.
Don’t let fear of death make you afraid of fully experiencing love.
My awakening made me realize that I want to fully experience the love of my husband and children and even if that means that I will struggle to cope when something happens to one of us, I would rather have that, then knowing I held back to insulate myself from eventual pain.
In the end of our story, there will be grief and loss. A lifetime spent together, writing this story that we have crafted together that unfolds every day. It’s a novel. There are plot twists, cliff hangers, and climax in there, and someday it’ll end. There’s drama, romance, comedy, and even some dry sections where it feels like it needs to pick up a little bit. It might be a shocking ending to this novel, or a drawn out one, where it seems like it should just end already, but it’s coming.
We have both realized that staring down death means that we really want to live. We are leaning in to this life we’ve been blessed to have. A brush with death will do that, it puts things in perspective. The movies are right on this one, the hardest times bring things in to sharp focus and everything else just fades in to the distance. Why does it have to take these types of moments? Who knows, but my theory is just that humans are forgetful. I was going to use the word stupid, but forgetful is a more forgiving word, so I’ll go with that instead.
I believe this is why some of the most inspirational people are the ones that have struggled in life, whether that is a literal brush with death, walking through trauma, or even those who are plagued with demons they fight, like addiction. These humans get it, and they bring value and perspective to the world that those who haven’t walked a hard road could never do.
For now, Jason and I are continuing to write this novel together. We are grateful, open, and living the life of freedom that was always available to us, but now it means so much more.