If you lie to your husband…each lie is a brick in a wall going up between you, and when he tells you he loves you, it’s deflected away.
- Mary Karr, Lit
Among the many beautiful things and the many terrible things cancer will bring into your life, honesty may be the most gleaming treasure of all.
People sometimes ask us for relationship advice, when the secret to our bond is really no secret at all: it’s honesty.
When mortality is a Saturday night date conversation, when you’ve walked through living wills and estate plans when you’re fresh into your 30s, when you’ve washed the blood from someone’s wounds and riden with them in the back of ambulances, when you’ve thrown up Mac and Cheese in front of them while delivering your baby, there’s no reason for artifice between you.
Our love has x-ray vision. It can see through bullshit and nonsense and it knows that those little lies that we tell each other — are you afraid? No. Me neither. — aren’t lies at all, but kindnesses that build a fortress around the two of us, brick by brick.
Mary is one of many women I know who are my age, and in my shoes. Across all of those miles and a cell connection that seemed determined to keep us from one another, we tearfully agreed one sunny afternoon half a nation apart that if nothing else, cancer is damn good for a marriage.
You’re damn lucky to have a healthy partner, of course.
But so are we.
We’re privileged to see life from a perspective that our peers won’t have for decades.
We’re honored to be able to live our wedding vows to the letter.
We’re ripped apart and sewn back together every day by the stunning beauty and cruelty of this life.
Because nothing creates a solid unit like a strong opponent.
It’s the basis for every sports film and underdog story throughout time: how will you get through this? Together.
One of the things I love about the Internet is how quickly it can turn the world into a small town when we know other people are hurting.
I don’t know either of these people personally, but I know enough to know they’re good humans who deserve better than the cards they were dealt.
I also know from experience that there is really nothing harder than asking for help, whatever that help looks like.
There but for the grace of God go we.
Be well, my loves.