In memory of Mr. R**, 57 years young. After a long and complicated hospital course, he spent his 35th wedding anniversary in the unit with his wife. That day, she shared their love story. This story is inspired their journey and devotion to one another.
After 3 weeks of hospitalization, Mr. R began to rapidly deteriorate. He started vomiting blood, becoming encephalopathic, hypothermic, and already cachectic, he pulled out his feeding tubing – impeding nutrition.
This happened almost instantaneously overnight.
You’ve waited days, months, years for this. Ever since you first saw her that fateful day back, you’ve known you wanted her. But it took time, sweat, blood, and tears to win her over. And now, as you prepare to commit to the love of your life before family, friends, and God, promising to serve, respect, and cherish her forever…
Did you ever think, if put to the test, just how much the vows would tie you two together?
I take you,
to be my lawfully wedded beloved,
to have and to hold,
from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
until death do us part.
It’s the start of high school. Freshman year. Suddenly just as your nerves are pounding, so are your hormones raging and that childhood neighbor you’ve always had, suddenly comes back from summer break looking pretty darn cute. It takes months of careful planning and multiple attempts before you finally awkwardly suggest seeing a movie together.
WillyouImeandoyoukindawannaseeamoviewithmemaybepleasetomorrow? you say, all in one bated breath.
No, she says. I’m busy.
You’re crushed. You don’t mention it again.
Junior year and you’re seventeen and it’s the best time of your life. At last, you’ve out of the awkward stage and you’ve made it to the top of the social ladder; you’re on the football team. You don’t really know how it happened, it was talent you boast, but to yourself – you admit, it was probably mostly luck – but no matter what it is, you’re there.
And so is she. A cheerleader for your team. No, just for you, you smile to yourself.
You two have been becoming better friends in the past couple years, and now you have all the confidence in the world, typical of boys your age. You notice girls actually come up to talk to you know – what an ego boost – but you know you want no one else but her.
Butterflies and all, you ask her out.
She says yes.
Your world explodes in delight!! The year is pure bliss.
Senior year comes, and it’s a whirl wind. Applications, discussions about the future, and responsibilities versus dreams. You get into one of the top universities of the nation that you cannot say no to, but she plans to stay in-state. You and her end up picking different colleges. But you’re still naive and idealistic and in love and you declare to her that she’s the one.
No problem, you say.
It’s only four years, you say.
We’ll make it, you say.
You quickly realize how fun college is. And how much of a lame excuse the ‘I have a girlfriend’ mantra has begun to sound. Your new friends call you ‘whipped,’ and you’re starting to forget what she looks like.
Let’s break up, you call her to say.
But why? She cries over the phone.
You don’t really know yourself. You just want to try it.
Almost immediately, you realize how much you miss her.
A day later, you are back together.
Let’s break up, she says.
Whatever, you say.
This is no surprise. You two have been though this many times already, this off-and-on, and on-and-off relationship.
College is coming to a close. And before you know it, you’re in the adult world.
Yet, while you still feel like you’re riding a roller coaster and charading as an adult, more or less, you quickly realize you can’t imagine a life without her; no, you want to spend every day with her. You want to marry her.
You ask for parental permission and you start saving for a ring.
The years fly by.
You propose, you get married, you move for her job, then yours. The times aren’t always easy, but you try to live everyday fully and make most of it.
But most importantly, you stay in love. And in between, you have your first child, then a second, then – oops – a third. You raise a family together.
You start being highly successful at your business. You’re flown out on a business trip one weekend, when suddenly you start feeling some abdominal pain, that radiates to your back. It started after a heavy meal and unlike anything you’ve felt before.
Honey, I’m going to be at the hospital for a stomach ache, no big deal, you call and tell your wife. I’ll see you home in two days!
But you don’t get to go home in two days. Not even five. Or two weeks. Or five weeks.
The doctors discovered necrotizing pancreatitis and you stay in the hospital. You get sicker. Your wife flies in and stays with you for three weeks. And finally after six excruciating weeks, you get to go home.
You’re hit with how short life is and you tell your wife, should anything happen, you don’t want to live on life support. She tearfully agrees.
You get a necrectomy. You want to be cured, but there are complications. Many, many complications. You’re in and out of the hospital, surgery after surgery, appointment after appointment.
But slowly, you’re getting better. And finally, you’re well enough to go home. Safe, with family and friends.
You could stay here like this, you think to yourself, couldn’t it be for forever?
But the respite doesn’t last.
You fall sick again. You get re-admitted to the hospital, and this time, it’s infection.
This time, you fear, will it be the last?
Mr. R, thank you for allowing me to take care of you in your last months. Thank you for your steadfast spirit, of reminding me of the strength of family, the power of love, and the importance of listening.
I still remember talking to your wife, after you pulled through a particularly difficult weekend, and her attributing it the power of prayer. I couldn’t help it. I told her I prayed for you too, during my early morning walks to the hospital. I had felt powerless, and it was the least I could do. Her response blew me away. She was incredibly gracious, and told me she was glad her doctors were not only trying their best healing her husband in the physical world, but also, intervening and putting their faith into the God Almighty in the spiritual world. It was reassuring, she said. She was thankful.
And at that moment, I was reminded by how powerful prayer was.