I used to have a husband.
I used to have a man that loved me, took care of me, put me first and who put my happiness above all else. I married this man, I loved him, I gave everything to him, I tried to make him happy and to take care of him. We made two beautiful, perfect little lives together. I was exceedingly lucky.
Our marriage wasn’t perfect, but it was ours and it worked. For a time it worked. And then it didn’t work.
He got leukemia, twice, he had two bone marrow transplants; he developed an illness called GVHD (graft versus host disease), which some transplant patients get, but he survived. He survived, but we didn’t. I don’t even know when and how it happened, our marriage died, slowly, over time, we didn’t even notice. One day everything was fine, and the next I simply can’t take the fighting any longer and I ask him to leave, for the night, for a few days, just to get a break from it all. He left, and it was a nightmare, so he came back after a week, but he never really came back. He came back and slept in another room, he shut down or off or maybe I only then started noticing. He simply didn’t love me anymore. It took me forever to understand those words. How, how can he not love me anymore? We’re supposed to love each other forever. We’re supposed to love each other more each day, not less, not stop.
It took months, months of arguing, of crying, of trying to wrap my mind around it, months of negotiating, figuring out what we were doing, months of hopes and crushed hope, months of misunderstandings, of righteous indignation and of broken hearts.
Finally in September I accepted that I could not and would not try to keep a man who loved me, yes, because we’ve been together for sixteen years and have two children, but who no longer loved me as his wife, who no longer loved me for me. And then it took two more months before he finally moved out of the house, but only half way, all his stuff is still here. And after that we still went on for months trying to figure out a new routine, trying to parent together without being together, trying to become independent from the other while maintaining a good relationship. I never threw a vase at him. I wish I had. I wish I had yelled at him, I wish I had gotten angry at him and thrown plates at his head, I’ve got so many plates. I wish I hadn’t cried quite so much.
Last week he was diagnosed with leukemia again. AGAIN. And I’ve started crying again, and I can’t stop, I literally can’t stop. I used to have a husband, now I have a man that I love, but with whom I am no longer married – on paper, I am, but in every other way that counts, I’m not – who needs me, who I can’t abandon if for no other reason that he’s the father of my children and because I can’t imagine a life without him in it, and because he is my family and I am his. And so I can’t stop crying, crying rivers and streams.