08 March 2010

He's Got Me

Titles are insufficient sometimes. And certainly, "boyfriend" does not do justice to mine. I mean, yes, he's a friend (the best!). But he's no boy. He's a man. Manfriend? (Uhm...no. Let's shelf that one.). Actually, "partner" is a better term, but it's so blah and cowboy'ish. I just keep hearing John Wayne in my head saying "Howdy, pardner!" Though we're not in business together, we are in the truest sense, partners. Still, the word just doesn't ring my bell. But, let's not get trapped in a cycle of semantics here. It doesn't do him justice, but "what's in a name?" as the Bard wrote. All told, he is my friend, cohort, consort, comfort, partner, playmate, my "blanket" counselor, cuddler, schlepper, comic relief, intellectual challenge, all around safe place, my very own Wesley (but not the "dreaded Pirate Roberts), my protector, and lots more I couldn't even think of at the moment. And there's no no one word for that. Is there? So please indulge me as I revert to "boyfriend," insufficient though it might be.

I thought this would be the easiest of posts to write. How difficult can it be to talk about one's relationship and one's boyfriend? The thing is, this post does not attest to who he is in totality, or to our relationship as a whole (that would require a whole other blog). What I want to show here is how absolutely key his role was during my bout with cancer. That although Dr. T and his team were responsible for the medical aspect of my healing, my boyfriend was there to help me sort out everything else. Afterall, I only saw my medical team once every three weeks. Then, there was the everyday life to contend with -- the aftermath of chemo, as it were. And during those times, my boyfriend was the partner with whom to walk that road. He took to the task no questions asked, only with lots of willingness and love.

He took a huge weight off me. One of the things I was really concerned about was the burden cancer would put on my daughter. I did not want her saddled with looking after me, while she was working full time and going to college full time. I know she would have nursed me, without question. But, it was the last thing I wanted for her. It was bad enough for her to contend with the fact that her mother's really ill, let alone be charged with my care as well. My boyfriend did not even need to hear this concern articulated. Immediately, he just took on the role of my caretaker, lifting the responsibility off my daughter. My "awful" post-chemo days were usually spent under his care. What a burden lifted off my daugther and off me! I'd like to say too that it is a testament to who he is that my daughter felt absolutely confident and secure that I was being properly looked after.

He respected and understood my personal boundaries. There's a thin line between being always there for someone and smothering them with your presence. My boyfriend walks that line beautifully. He has great respect for my personal space and boundaries and trusts my judgement about that. But he's also sensitive to those times when I couldn't articulate a need. He just knew when and where to be there for me. Truly, he understands boundaries and allowed (and provided for) me the space to be whatever and whomever I want to be. He never imposed on me his deep desire to help, more than I allowed him. And certainly, he was quick to accept his role in the whole scheme of my healing, no questions asked--just a readiness to be where I needed him to be.

He created a safe place where I could exhale. When I was sick, I had this self-imposed need to maintain my composure, thereby setting the tone on how my illness would be deemed by others. I wanted to demonstrate control by maintaining a positive, energetic and "can-do" attitude for my family and loved ones. That way, they would all stop worrying and not be pained with the burden of cancer. As Nurse J said, "set the tone." And that, I certainly did. But, there were times when I didn't feel like being a "teal warrior" or I felt too scared to be positive. Yes, there were times when I would succumb and cry that I couldn't do it. During those times, I knew that I could go to my boyfriend and fall apart. He created a safe place for me in which to collapse. He listened and did not judge, because he knew that I just needed to do that. It didn't mean that I had given up. It just meant that I needed to exhale from time to time -- take a load off. And that was just fine. My boyfriend made a space for me to "just be" -- whatever that was: silly, angry, childish, preachy, quiet, restless....anything. Having that space when I was sick was key to recharging so that I would be ready for the next rounds. It was invaluable!

He took "romance" to the next level. What woman hasn't gone crazy over the prospect of losing her hair? Or having dry, ashen skin? Or looking generally sick? Or not having eyebrows or eyelashes? It's maddening! And it doesn't get any better when reality strikes. I certainly couldn't look at myself in the mirror and reflect back a beautiful, desirable woman. But my boyfriend, never looked at me like that. He always made me feel like the most beautiful, desirable and loved woman. In his presence, I never felt bald or not feminine, though my reflection in the mirror betrayed that. A bouquet of flowers, a surpise picnic on a Sunday, something sparkly to wear, breakfast in bed...these are all well-accepted gestures of romance (some of which I have been privileged to receive) But, I think that all gets trumped by my boyfriend's shaving my head every weekend and looking at me as if I were the most beautiful woman there is. Now, that's romantic!

Above and beyond. I know that the words "to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer..." are exclusive to the marriage vow. But I would like to borrow them for purposes of this post. Yes. He and I have had our fun, health, and "richness." But, last year was a scary time of sickness and poorness for me. And my boyfriend was there to "have and to hold" me through it all with unfaltered reliability and love. Indeed, I count myself fortunate to have him as a "partner" with whom to travel the road behind and the road ahead. That road would have been steeper, colder, darker and lonelier without him.

Thank you, babe!


Bonita said...

Well....this post starting a crying jag...my situation was quite different. You were so lucky to have your sweetie so near and helpful and there for you. What a blessing. And you wrote about it so well.

ce_squared said...

awwww... i'm sorry. i didn't mean to make you cry. and i was very, very fortunate to have someone like him to lean on.

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