My Life: Part 1 - Chris

Intro: I've heard it said that the best writing comes from what you know and love most. So what is that for me? My husband and sons are undoubtedly the most important parts of my life. And they are so essential and meaningful in different ways, that I believe each deserve an entry dedicated just to them. So to start: My Life: Part 1 - Chris “Just pull over,” I said to him, tears collecting in my eyes. Chris stopped the car, and I prepared myself for what would be a heart-wrenching conversation. “I have to ask,” I said, trying to arrange my thoughts to best convey my overwhelming feelings. It was the most difficult thing I had ever had to say aloud, but it was time. “Can you handle this?” The question we had been skirting the previous 9 months finally flowed from my lips. “This is me. The MS is always going to be a problem. I will forever have bad days. I am going to have more moments like this, where plans get ruined because I am sick.” The events of that morning came flooding back to me: how I started feeling sick and anxious, how terrible sleep caused me to have a bad morning with my MS. How my body, working fine the day before, was so fatigued I could barely walk. How my head was swimming with confusion. I had asked him to take me home early, to choose me over his friends. We had driven for hours to attend an annual weekend trip with his friends from college. And this specific trip was significant to Chris: it was the first time he had brought a girlfriend to meet them. But then I started feeling sick and asked to leave a day early. I could tell he was upset: I would be too in his position. He had been looking forward to spending the entire weekend with them, and I was ruining that. That was the reality of my life though. A bad MS day can hit when it is most inconvenient, and there was no way for me to change that. It was my life, my future - but it didn't have to be his. Even though I loved him, even though I didn't have a choice with my MS, I realized that he did. He didn't have to be burdened, and I wondered if a life without me would be better for him. He could choose not to have a future with a person who was chronically ill. He could choose not to be the caregiver, the person who always had to be the strong one. A life with me would mean a future that was always uncertain. He would be forever having plans disrupted, forever taking care of me, forever seeing me suffer. I knew that he loved me, that he cared very deeply for me. But he did have a choice: if it was too much, he could decide to end this thing we had. This thing I had wished so hard for, a love that I never imagined I would actually get. I hoped our love would be enough to overcome the burden of my MS, but if it were me, if I could choose to get rid of it, I would. So I wouldn't blame him if he left, even if it did break my heart in the process. “I love you, more than anything,” I told him, tears now streaming freely down my face. It was so hard to continue. “But I need to know if the MS is too much. I need to know if it is something you want to live with. And if it's not… it might be best if we end this now. I can't keep falling more in love with you. It'll just hurt too much, more than it does now!” My heart was breaking! A few years later, I asked Chris when he knew I was the one: he said it was this moment. I remember this time with a lot of grief; I was so upset and it was a terrible moment for me. I was terrified that this would be the end of us, and I felt guilty even asking him to choose me and the MS in the first place (I misguidedly felt that if I really loved him, I wouldn't want him to be burdened with me), and I left the conversation not being entirely satisfied with how I was feeling. So I was amazed that this was such a solidifying moment for Chris. He said that this experience, when I asked him if the MS was too much, and suggested it might be best for us to move on, was when he realized he didn't want to live without me. That he loved me so much he'd rather have me, MS included with everything that meant, than not at all. Over a decade later, our relationship is even stronger now, but living with MS is not easy for either of us. When I am sick and cannot take care of myself, the burden falls to him. He has to be husband, provider, father, maid, cook, nurse - he has to do his work, mine, plus more… And he says he wouldn't have it any other way. I find it amazing, awe-inspiring even, that he chose this! We truly have a partnership, where each of us tries to give as much as we receive. But I will be forever grateful that he took that first big step in picking me, and in so doing, choosing the MS. He is everything to me, and I to him. The inscriptions on our wedding bands summarize it all. Mine reads “My Life.” His says “Ditto”! - Part 2 coming soon!

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