As of late, my wife has started to surprise me. She’s become increasingly more insightful and inspirational to me. I dare say, she’s become wise. Suddenly I find her giving me career advice, advice on dealing with people in tough interpersonal situations and even some interesting new insights on life in general.
Over the past few months I’ve watched her take the weight of the world upon her shoulders. She was recently diagnosed with Lupus, then that illness led to a probable diagnosis for Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer in the lymph nodes. She’s handled these illnesses largely by herself during the week when I am away at work, essentially a single mother with two little girls.
Meanwhile, her family around her is falling apart. Her grandmother was recently put in the nursing home and her grandfather seems to be slowly and quietly sailing off into the sunset of his life. Her mother, father and sister, all in perfect health can’t seem to cope with everyone else being ill, and proceed to shut down and cry, becoming of no use at all to anyone.
Still, my wife appears headstrong through this all. Despite being ill she still has fun, still gets up and gets dressed to the nines every day, does yoga, step aerobics and swims laps at the gym, and is more beautiful and vibrant than ever.
I feel lucky to have her. I never saw this in her before. I never took her to be a person who would excel through adversity. She has quietly become my cornerstone.
I think this change began over the summer when I took her on a 10 day trip to Peru. In the beginning, she seemed feeble and her spirits downtrodden. I made her stay in a local home we rented from a family in the residential part of Cusco. She didn’t like it. She didn’t enjoy the lack of central heating and air, hot water, or having to walk down dirty streets and uninviting alleyways to get to the vibrant, touristy shopping district near the Plaza de Armas.
After a few days though, things changed in her. She started to wake up and recognize the contrasts between our world and theirs. The extreme dichotomy between the residential side and the touristy side of town, and to have a bit more appreciation for their ways of life. Then we undertook a four day, marathon length trek over mountains and through thick forests to Machu Picchu! She emerged a new person at the end, having accomplished something no one she knew could ever do.
After we got home, it was apparent that her family was jealous of her. I could see it in their feigned disinterest and the way they downplayed her accomplishments. But that was OK, because my wife knew she had accomplished the seemingly impossible in both their eyes and her own just a few weeks prior.
Now she is set to accomplish the seemingly impossible again. While all those around her melt down into a pathetic puddle of weakness, she will remain strong. And this time, I won’t sit by quietly for the sake of being polite or civil afterwards. When my wife beats this illness, I will let them and everyone else know what kind of woman they stand in the presence of, and just how weak they are in comparison. I will gloat and brag for her because she deserves it, and because I am proud.
She is woman who is not afraid to laugh and love, have fun on her own terms and unabashedly speaks the truth even when it is inconvenient or embarrassing. She is my cornerstone.