Friday, February 26, 2016

The Husband's Perspective by Mike Bingham

Anger. Shock. Hysteria. Fear. Repeat.

That's the emotions constant during the weeks since my wife's diagnosis. Usually in that exact order. The one thing I still hold close to me is hope. Hope is stronger than everything else we face and it is the reason I can smile, laugh and look her in the eye and say that "everything is going to be OK" and not feel like I'm full of shit.

For those of you that followed the blog the first time, you may remember I would occasionally post to share the perspective of the spouse. Since this all started, I wanted to post something, but in all honesty I didn't know what to write. The first time Melissa was diagnosed, I was so confident she would beat the disease that it only seemed like a difficult time in our life, the beginning of our marriage, that would test our commitment, patience and love. After all, she was 29, me 28 and we had our whole lives ahead of us. I KNEW she would be OK. I knew she would survive. I knew we would have a family and grow old together.

This time is different. So very different. Not because I don't believe in her, but because we have two young boys, 3 years and 2 months old, who need their mom. This time is different because they started our first meeting with "prognosis" and "statistics" and "life expectancy." This my wife. This is the mother of my kids. This is my soulmate. She is my universe. I don't know me without her. We have been so intertwined for the last decade that I don't remember life without her. All I know is that I wouldn't be close to the man I am today without her. She believed in me when almost nobody else did, pushing me in my career, to finish college and to realize my potential. In reality, almost everything I've ever accomplished as an  adult is a reflection of her, whether through inspiration or because of my desire to give her and my kids a better life. She is the reason I care. She is the reason I want to be a better person every day. She has helped me through my own health problems and provided me with strength when I didn't have any left. She's essentially carried. Me for the last two years. As her husband, I just wish I knew what to do. How to handle this best. What to say in the moment. What to do about work. What to say to my kids. When to try and help and when to shut up and let her feel. I just want to be what she has been to me for the last 11 years, a reason to live, a reason to fight back.

Through this difficult time, it's also reminded me how important friends and family truly can be. Melissa mentioned before about my "layers" and how I can be guarded. That I'm not the most trusting person and that I'm often skeptical of others intentions. While this is still true to a degree, a big part of that has been removed because of the confidence she has instilled me. I fell in love with her and for the first time in my life I completely let my guard down and let someone have complete access to my emotions. She had the ability to crush me. She hasn't. She also had the ability to make me whole. She has. My relationship with her has made me a better man. I care more about everyone, including myself. I love now. I understand what that means and how important it is to us as human beings.

The thought of losing her is unbearable. So much so that I mostly choose to ignore the possibility. Or at least I've tried to, losing a lot of sleep, weight and tears in the process. It hurts most when I look into my kids eyes and see their mom, and for a brief second have the sinking feeling that they might not get to know her like I know her. The only relief in that moment is that I know they are in fact a part of her, and will be just like her in many different, wonderful ways. That's such a blessing in a shit storm of uncertainty.

In this situation, I would imagine most spouses feel powerless. I'm no exception. Other than attending every appointment, holding her hand, asking questions and reassuring her that everything will be OK. The truth is, and she already knows this, is that neither one of us know if that will be true regarding her health, however we both know we wouldn't change a thing about what brought us to these moments. There is no place I'd rather be than by her side, regardless of the setting or circumstance.

I love Melissa so much. She is the most caring, tolerant and selfless person I've ever met. It's not even close. She always puts others before herself and has continued to do so during the most difficult periods of her life. I don't have to tell that to anybody who knows her well. They've seen it in action and that has been apparent by the outpouring of support. People who haven't seen or spoken to her in 15, 20 years have reached out to offer support, often mentioning her kindness and the impression she left. Guess what? I was somehow lucky enough to marry this woman and I'm thankful for that everyday.

Thank you so much to all of you who have provided support through this difficult time. I cannot express how thankful and lucky we are to have this kind of network behind us during such a difficult time. I would like to thank my mother in law, Marilou for dropping her life and staying with us to help. I want to thank my mom for her constant support. I want to thank my best friend Nic and my sister in law Maria for being someone to lean on and for their time and energy helping with the kids. I want to say thank you to our aunts and uncles for everything they have done.  I want to say thank you to all of my colleagues at Apple, Melissa's colleagues at Deloitte and our former colleagues from previous jobs who have provided unbelievable help. People are truly amazing and we are so incredibly fortunate in so many ways.

Anger. Shock. Hysteria. Fear. Repeat. The exception being that I am filled with gratitude and appreciation for those who love and support us. I know this would be impossibly difficult without you. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. 

2 comments:

  1. Mike, wow - thank you for sharing this. I already knew I loved Melissa, and I now I know I love you too. No one gets through this shit without a partner in crime - and a posse. So glad Melissa has you in her corner. Thinking of you guys and sending prayers every single day.

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