The Dangers of Love on the Wildwood Exit
You hear a lot about happiness on your wedding day.
He just seems to make her so happy.
The bride was beaming with happiness.
I hope you two live happily ever after.
And whether she realizes it or not, every blushing bride prances down the aisle with her own vision of what her happily ever after will look like. Every bride expects to live out her own fairy-tale version of happily ever after now that she’s found true love. And no, the version I’d written for myself didn’t look anything like this life I’m living.
When I look back on my wedding day, on that bride and groom standing there on the sunlit beach with their tans and those big, cheesy grins, I realize they were far stupider and stronger than they could have ever known.
I told a lot of lies on my wedding day, most of them to myself. I told myself I was merely stressed from all that wedding planning. After things calmed down, I’d feel better. I told myself the overwhelming fatigue and back-to-back infections were wedding related as well. After the wedding, I’d start running again and get things under control. No one had to know how tired I was that day or that I hadn’t been able to get through a full workout in months. No one had to know I had an infection at that precise moment, despite countless antibiotics. My illusion of control fizzled when I cried in front of my new husband in our honeymoon suite. After donning my sexy lingerie, I could fake it no more and confessed to my UTI and debilitating fatigue. He was characteristically amazing and I was convinced I’d feel better in a day or two. Lies. I told a lot of lies.
Of course, all of my lies came quickly tumbling out in the weeks that followed. Living with someone else, especially someone so efficient, I was unable to hide my constant need to rest, the fast and furious infections, or my fear. I’d always been sick more severely, more often than other people, but I’d also always been able to hide, to push through… until now.
I added new symptoms with a terrifying regularity. My new husband added gray hairs to his head at a similar pace. I was a lot to handle, but he never complained. He did his work in E.R. waiting rooms while sitting alongside me and washed my hair at home when I couldn’t. For four long years, we knew something was very wrong, but no doctor could give us a name for my condition.
Life carried on and we did our best to enjoy the everyday moments. One evening, I was well enough for dinner out together. On the drive back we approached an exit called, “Wildwood” I suggested we take the offramp and make the most of the exit and its name. We did. Was there a price to pay? Absolutely. And no, it wasn’t an officer knocking on our car door. It was infection knocking at my body’s door. It was pain, fatigue, a trip to the E.R. and antibiotic shots. Have I ever been sorry we took that literal walk on the wild side? Not even once. Sometimes, happiness cost me more, but it also counts more. Click To Tweet Yes, intimacy with the man I love comes at a price which almost always includes a persistent UTI that sometimes makes its way to my kidneys. But to this day, I can’t drive past the Wildwood exit without a wry smile inching its way across my face.
Now, six years later, we know I have CVID, Lyme, RA and Interstitial Cystitis. Each month, I receive an infusion of donor antibodies to replace what my body fails to produce. Here, happiness is found in the stillness, in the overcoming, in the stolen moments on Florida highways. It’s found in the knowledge I can face loss, the unexpected and keep moving forward, that you can lose one self and find another. This grey-haired happily ever after is all about the adventure, it’s found in the love, the dreaming, together. For better or worse, till sickness do us part.