January 19, 2009


I'm sitting here tonight, still in the hospital with my husband, still waiting to find out when we might get to go home. At this point, we have a diagnosis of his illness, but not an idea of when we will be able to return to our normal life. (For those interested, he has been diagnosed with Adult Onset Stills Disease - a very rare auto immune rheumatic disorder. You can Google it to find out more.)

Hospitals tend to be quite boring, so there is a great deal of time to think. My mind has wandered to a topic that I recall reading many times in various magazines. The topic of which I speak is marriage. Many people ask what it means to be married and why marriage is so important. I never thought much of it, until now.

One question I remember reading quite often was this: "When did you first feel married?" I never quite understood the question. After all, what does it "feel" like, this feeling of being married?

Tonight, sitting here by my husband's bedside in the semi-darkness and wondering just how much longer we will be here and how much longer it will take for this particular nightmare to end, I fully understand what being married feels like. For the first time in my life I have been the person who was expected to be in charge and make decisions. It is me who the nurses have turned to whenever my husband was too sick to make decisions on his own.

It is mind blowing to be in charge when you really want to fall apart. This experience, this past week - now I know what this feeling of being married is like. I stay here most of the day and all night, sleeping on the floor by his side so I'm nearby just in case he needs me. This was especially important those first few days when he was unable to walk or even roll over on his own. So even though I have children at home who miss us both so much, I stay here. I know the girls are well cared for by their Grandma Janet. At least I can be here without needing to worry about them.

This experience has made me realize just how much I need this man who is so very sick. I've never seen him weak or scared until this week. Watching him become more and more sick over the course of a couple of days had me more than a little concerned about the outcome of this ordeal. Now I'm just so incredibly relieved to know that he will recover, even though we do not know how long it will take for this recovery to be complete.

Next time I read an article that asks married couples to reveal when they first felt married and what cause them to feel married, I'll think to myself - "If you only knew! Because now I know that just saying your new name is not really what being married is about. One day, when your spouse is laying in bed too sick to make decisions for himself - that is when you will truly understand what it feels like to be married."