April 6, 2016
It's 6am in the morning as I write this and I'm not really sure what I need to say other than Nicole I love you. I've loved you since the day I met you 10 years ago. As I type I realize that it was around this time 8 years ago that you called me at work to share with me you were in the hospital and had just miscarried the baby neither of us knew you were pregnant with. We were a long distance couple, who'd connected on the internet, we'd only visited each other once.
We weren't engaged yet, hadn't even discussed getting married but that conversation would come in the weeks leading up to the day I proposed; May 10th, 2008. I'll never forget it. All I saw ahead of us was a bright future that hasn't always been so sunny. We didn't know on September 19th, 2009 where life was headed but we vowed to share our lives with one another as husband and wife for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
We were poor from day one, so richer was the only place left we had to go and yet we still haven't reached that goal. We've had good times, but the bad ones? I'll never forget that first year. I almost lost you and I apologize for everything I did wrong although an apology doesn't make things right. Only time could make things right and as time wore on I fell more and more in love with you. I loved having the pleasure of your presence.
I'm blessed to watch you grow and I pray you feel the same way about me, but I guess that's what this is really all about. March 7th, 2014. We sat together in the Neurologist's office as he told us that you had Multiple Sclerosis. Things haven't really been the same since. I made your disease all about me. I'd seen MS before, I knew what MS looked like and it scared me.
My mother's sister lived with it. Wheel-chair bound, unable to walk and talk and I selfishly thought about what the future could hold for me. Not you, but me. I'm sorry. I was scared. I was scared I wouldn't be able to take care of you the way you would need. Scared I wouldn't be able to love you the way you deserved. Scared the future we dreamed of had just changed because of our new reality. I made everything about me and Nicole I promise you from the bottom of my heart that I'm sorry.
I think about the night after we were told you had MS. You told me to divorce you, you wouldn't hold it against me, you'd understand. The thought honestly never crossed my mind, but I know why you said it. The same reason I told you to divorce me because I feared I was not going to be capable of taking care of you.
I was always supposed to be your provider but could I be your caretaker too? I didn't know, and honestly sometimes I still don't. I just know I couldn't imagine life with you. The better, the worse, the richer, the poorer, in sickness and health almost seven years later I still cannot imagine life without you. More now than ever before. I think about those arguments the first year. The nights we didn't have sex because you didn't feel good and couldn't explain why as if you telling me you didn't feel well shouldn't have been good enough. The times you'd fall accidentaly and we'd both just laugh it off thinking nothing was wrong.
The constant upset stomachs that had us worried you were pregnant only to waste money on pregnancy tests that came up negative. The nights you couldn't sleep because you were in too much pain. I was so focused on me and what I swore you weren't doing that I never stopped to realize I was missing the signs something was bothering you and I'm sorry.
You told me when we found out you had MS to not disable you. Sometimes I lay next to you and feel your legs tremor. I lay there and see tears falling from your eyes you don't even realize are there because you can't feel them. Stand next to you as you explain to others what you're going through knowing they'll never really understand...myself included. I can admit it's hard not to disable you and for that I'm sorry. Despite the obstacles in your path you're healthy and self sufficient and deserve to be viewed as that and I promise to work hard to improve how I treat you. MS is not who you are and I have no right to use it to define you in any way.
But this isn't about me. I'm learning that more and more each day. This is about us. And in OUR marriage you come first. I used to resent it, then I felt guilty about it and now I accept that's the way it has to be. I'm your caretaker. It's a role I'm honored to play because truthfully we wouldn't have made it this far if you hadn't taken care of me.
You took care of me when I was unemployed. When I was unsure of where I was headed in life. You took care of me when I needed a friend. On those long nights back when we first met and you realized I was depressed. You saw the signs I wasn't well, how could I miss them in you? Nicole, once again...I'm sorry.
I'm sorry you feel the need to apologize for my shortcomings, trust me baby they aren't your fault. They've never been your fault. I learned that in counseling, and you're the one who encouraged me to go so let me say thank you. We started going as a couple too and I really hope it helps. Our friendship is growing stronger than ever before and that truly is a blessing. Never have I felt more connected to the person you are. The woman I fell in love with a decade ago and all her growth because I've learned in a marriage nothing really stays the same for too long.
You're my best friend. You were my best friend from day one because neither of us ever thought we'd wind up together. You living in Columbus, OH...me in Rochester, NY with 400 miles between the two of us. I vowed to let distance never separate us again the day we got engaged. I vowed to make you the happiest woman in the world the afternoon we were married. Just because our circumstances have changed doesn't change my commitment. I'm in this with you for life in any capacity you need me. I pray you know that. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I love you 'Boobie,' and pray that through it all you still love me too. I know this has been harder on you than it could ever be on me. You're beautiful, strong and uniquely made in ways I admire that cannot be explained.
To all the people, couples, families and friends fighting Multiple Sclerosis with someone you love, we pray you all are well. Stay strong.
About the Author:
Richard Lawrence (33) is the co-Author of "Making it To The Altar: From Cyber to Ceremony Our Love. Our Life. Our Lessons." and co-founder of foreveryoungblackandmarried.com
along with his wife of 6 years Nicole Lawrence.