She asked several pretty personal questions about our relationship and how it is doing.
Where we stand.
Because oftentimes the significant other of someone with chronic illness decides to leave.
The social worker asked us, "How long have you been married?"
"16 years," I answered. In my head I always add, "Together for 20," because those first four years matter too.
Then she asked, "So....you're pretty solid, you think....?"
"You mean, am I...?", I offered.
"In it for the long haul," she clarified.
I answered, "Yes, I'm here. I'm not going anywhere," as I looked across the table at Mark.
And I am.
Mark and I always have been, are and will remain a team, to the best of our collective abilities.
It may be hard. It might suck. It will be messy and unfun sometimes. But when you love someone, really love them so much that no matter how frustrated, sad or pissed off you might feel about whatever, you can easily drop all of that in a hot second to be there for them.....that love is all that really matters.
That's how I feel. That's why I'm here. That's why I'll always be here.
I'm not perfect. I have a certain amount of bitchiness in me and it comes out sometimes. I can get impatient. Sometimes I forget things. Sometimes, no matter how much I want to help Mark continue to do as many things as he can, I want him to just let me do it for him because it's easier...and he picks up on that and it makes him feel less than and that is sort of mean of me.
But I promise to do the best I can each day. For Mark and our children, in honor of the years we've put in, for however many more we have.
There is a book by Anna Quindlen titled One True Thing. It was made into a movie with the same title starring Meryl Streep (Kate) and Renee Zellweger (Ellen). There is this one exchange between the two of them (playing mother and daughter) that made such an impression on me that I've never forgotten it and call it to mind often:
Ellen asks, "How do you do this...every day, all day in this house...and no one notices? Doesn't that drive you crazy?"
Kate answers, "But this is my family, Ellie. These are the people I love."