I write to you all as “an old married man,” or, at least that’s what some are calling me. Though I hardly feel old–getting younger, if anything–and as for the man part, well technically, yes, but I feel more like a guy than a man.
On New Year’s Eve just past, as we rolled over the calendar, I rolled into a new part of my life. One friend of mine assured me, “It’s a whole new book, never mind a new chapter.” And while I’m sure he’s right, so far it doesn’t feel any different.
Karen and I have been jokingly talking about creating new words for husband and wife as they sound so old and mature, yet we still feel so young and foolish. The truth is, I know we are mature (sometimes anyway) and getting older, but inside, where it counts, we remain young.
We had an awesome wedding and reception with close family and friends and it was a Christmas season we’ll certainly never forget. But I don’t feel much different than I did the week before Christmas, save the stress of a to-do list a mile long. I believe that is because marriage, like many things in life, is a state of mind. And while it is nice, and it was a lot of fun to gather loved-ones together, make a commitment to each other, and celebrate that commitment, I can tell you that from my perspective, I didn’t need a wedding to make that commitment last forever. Though renewing vows, or at least celebrating our anniversary with a huge New Year’s Eve party is tempting every year from here on out!
I say state of mind because to me, that is what matters most. It was a while ago when I decided that my commitment was solid, and I’m sure Karen was that way, too. (According to some stories, she was that way since grade six, hehehe!)
Karen and I were engaged on July 31 this past year, and in August, I made the first opportunity to sit down and think about what I would say to her at our reception. I joked with our MC and Karen that I needed at least 45 minutes for my speech, but the truth is, the words I wanted to say came right to me and they were very direct, as I know I can be sometimes. I shared my feelings about my relationship with Karen with those at our wedding and felt I wanted to do the same here because there is a very powerful lesson.
To Karen, my beautiful bride: I have been telling you for months that I wouldn’t be long with my words for you, and that as soon as I sat down in August to think about what I wanted to say, it came to me very quickly.
The process of us falling in love has challenged me to think about, plan for, and dream my future in a way–and with a passion–I never have before. Prior to our love, I didn’t allow myself that luxury. I was very focused on today, but due to my own fear, I wouldn’t permit myself to envision my future.
I am still very focused on today, but falling in love with you has opened up my dreams again, and that vision of us on my bike riding across the country at 80 is not only a vision and a goal, but it comes with a comfort that has been missing from my life for far too long.
I love you today, forever, and for always…
They were tough words for me to get out, but I got them out. Yes, while I may appear to be some tough guy, I’m getting better at letting that appearance fade every now and then and having the truth shine through.
Believe me when I say that before I fell in love with Karen, I wouldn’t allow myself the “luxury” of envisioning my future, especially after my relapse in 2001. I immersed myself in RealTime Cancer (RTC) and while I had long term plans for RTC, I didn’t even envision me–but instead others–delivering on those plans. I look back at the fall of 2003 when I was approaching my second anniversary of my second transplant–a time when most of my docs expected me to relapse. That fall was the site of two major things happening: me being afraid to think about the future because odds were I would be in hospital again soon, and me falling in love with Karen in a new way. It sounds crazy to say, kind of, but I literally had the battle of love and fear happening inside me. Guess who won?
My beautiful bride has challenged me and instigated a belief in myself in a way that had never happened before, and in a way that I know in my gut has truly contributed to me still being here. Don’t forget that by so many accounts on many more than one occasion, I’m not supposed to be here. If you were betting with the odds, as we know I am, and I’m damn happy about that.
The lesson I mentioned earlier is an important one, and it’s about that battle that was happening inside me: the love/fear war. For a long time, I was letting the fear win; I wasn’t allowing myself the vision of my future, and I had no comfort with long-term thoughts or plans.
I am so thankful that I was guided, challenged, and–now, more than ever–supported to find that comfort again. When you trust and put your energy in the constructive places as opposed to destructive places, everything takes care of itself. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to put that belief in practice.
Today, more than ever, I’ve got vision for the future. It comes in relation to RealTime Cancer and it comes with all the things I want to do as a person and as a couple with Karen. The best part about this vision is that I’m in all the pictures.
I’ll leave with some thoughts from Lenny Kravitz: “You’ve got to let love rule.”
Live life. Love life.