last night my wife and i celebrated the two year anniversary of our relationship. i’ve got to say that celebrating at the new location of hecho en dumbo (no longer in dumbo) was a special treat – we truly received the royal treatment! and good god the food and drinks are amazing.
what a roller coaster these two years have been. i don’t know what i would have done without her. my friends and family have been endlessly supportive, but at the core of it all has been kathryn.
on our third date, i brought her flowers. and i told her that my cancer had spread, that my chances of survival were slim and that it didn’t seem fair to start a relationship in that state. i don’t care, she said. i’m with you one hundred percent. as my late friend in tanzania used to say: tukopamoja msili mia mia moja – togetherness, we are, one hundred percent.
she was there, on our fourth date, at the hospital, to meet my parents for the first time as i watched through lidded morphine eyes. she kissed me goodbye and i said “kissing you makes me want to throw up.” i was not feeling very well. and then, as she walked away, i told her for the first time that i loved her. what does an admission of love mean when morphine is involved?
she was there as i crutched and caned my way through this not especially disability-friendly city on my surgically destroyed legs.
she was there when the tube draining lymph out of my groin popped out and a kool-aid-like red-orange fluid spurted out of my body.
she was there when that hole was sewn shut and the fluid swelled inside me like an alien baby growing on my hip; she was there as the fluid was lanced again, and again, and again.
she was there when a bout of cellulitis brought on a fever that spiked 106 and they laid me on a bed of ice to prevent brain damage.
she was there for every single infusion of chemotherapy, and she was there as i tossed and turned every night afterwards, the evil, panic-inducing steroids coursing through my system, preventing me from any kind of rest, day or night.
she was there for all seven of my inpatient hospital overnights, for the 5 am shots of heparin to the belly, for the tortuous hours with my abusive roommate who eventually required a mediation team to prevent him from making any other nurses cry.
she was there for the hours of bowel-cleansing horror that is colonoscopy prep – actually, she wasn’t there for that. which was a good thing. but she was there for the endoscopies, upper and lower and the one with the robotic, strobe-lit camera pill.
she was there for the days between my scans and the results, the waiting periods full of uncertainty and terror.
she was there for month after month of bad news, watching helplessly beside me as my cancer meandered on its deadly course through my fragile body.
she was there for every moment of pain and doubt, every moment of weakness and fear.
and she was there, and continues to be there, as we celebrate my reprieve from treatment.
after my mom met kathryn, she said i was a fool if i let someone so special get away.
mom: i’m glad i took your advice.
tukopamoja msili mia mia moja.