With This Ring, I Thee Wed

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For richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health ... how many times have we heard those words spoken; or better yet we've said them ourselves with love in our eyes and stars in our hearts. Pondering that frequency one must ask: do we ever realize the depth of that promise? I do. ..thanks to my life with CFIDS. Statistics speak loudly, proving words spoken during wedding vows have little if any meaning to many. My first husband was one such example. He left our five year old son and me in the middle of the night and never looked back.

After seventeen years of praying for God to send me a Christian man to share my life with, indeed prayers do get answered. One valuable lesson I've learned since, is, it's never in the exact wrapped up package you might expect.. .you see I fell in love with an atheist. Yes, God sent me a Christian man all right, he just wasn't one yet. One year later Steve was baptized and three months after that, I married my Godchild, now a Christian man at age 65.

Our ceremony was especially poignant as just the two of us and Steve's doctor knew of the cancer that had invaded his body and the 38 radiation treatments he was in the middle of getting. We faced each other and spoke our vows with a strong emphasis from my heart that I would remain at his side...in sickness or in health, till death us do part. I fully intended to be the caregiver as I was only 43 and in excellent health.

Life has a way of uncharted twists and turns we never expect. After sharing two years of a "God sent" marriage and no trace of cancer in Steve's body I began to get weaker and soon too ill to work. My life as superwife, supermom, workaholic, take care of everyone and everything with one hand tied behind my back—was over! I soon was reduced to total dependency on my new husband including the $14,000 of his money we spent in pursuit of medical answers over two years' time.

Now at near 70 years old he still is my strength and joy. He lifts me up when I fall and lose hope. He is my right arm literally when I walk as my vision and gait are in a slump right now. He is my spiritual leader as I can no longer attend our church services. He is our shopper, housecleaner, cook and caregiver. Even in his own pain he massages my aching body and empowers my Spirit not to give up when all it cries out for are a few minutes daily of recovery. He eases my pain in spite of his own. He energizes me better than any pink bunny, when I have no strength to raise my head off the pillow. He always manages to find humor in our calamity and when I'm at my very weakest and I offer to let him go so he can have a better life...this is what he says.

"I don't cut and run, honey. I'm in this together with you even when it gets rough. Our vows will always mean what we said...in sickness or in health, till death us do part. ..not till CFIDS us do part."

I am so blessed to have an understanding loving husband. I could not imagine facing the challenges of this disease without him. CFIDS has totally consumed my body and my mind. Steve helps me make some sense out of this hideous entrapment.

Even though this narrative is in tribute and gratitude to my husband. I feel very strongly that it is for all caregivers to those who are stricken with CFIDS. This is not for sissies! God bless you all.

Jeanne B