A recent story in Parade entitled, The Only Time We Have Together is Right Now, is about the joy of a couple in their thirties who recently married. The male partner was diagnosed three years earlier with a rare and aggressive form of cancer.
"Bahar and Nick met at a bar in October 2008 after a University of Illinois football game in Champaign, where he was living. She noticed that her pal Matt had brought along “this really cute, well-dressed, quiet guy.” He wasn’t drinking, so she teasingly asked him why. “I’ve got cancer. I can’t,” Nick replied. “Can I buy you a drink?” Unfazed by his answer (“I’m an oncology pharmaceutical sales rep. I see people with cancer every day,” she says), Bahar shot back, “Really? That’s the worst pickup line ever!” He laughed, and they started talking"
They dated, fell in love, and decided to marry, as his health was declining.
"Wish Upon a Wedding (WUW), a new nonprofit that stages ceremonies free for couples in which one person has a serious illness or has had a life-altering experience. Explains WUW founder, San Jose, Calif., wedding planner Liz Guthrie, “You shouldn’t have to put your life on hold because you’re sick.” ....In her application, Bahar wrote, 'I don’t know what Nick’s current life expectancy is, but I do know I want him to be my husband forever.' "
Here are the questions this story raised for me:
- When serious or chronic illness is part of your relationship from the outset, or early on, what does it take to sustain Bahar and Nick's kind of live-and-love-in-the-moment joy?
- Is that even possible; or do the demands and constraints of illness eventually chip away at that joy and turn it to complacency and sadness?
- Or does illness act as an accelerant, clearing away the debris and pushing love to the foreground?