I really like my husband. It goes without saying that I love him more than anyone else on earth, but I also genuinely like him.
I don’t agree with all his views, his politics or his taste in food, but we’ve come to a tacit agreement that he voices his opinions, I certainly voice mine, and if contentment means sometimes cooking two separate dinners, then so be it.
I wouldn’t call him my best friend because I have friends who are that; we have a unique bond that is part spouse, team-mate, partner-in-crime, lover and friend.
We first met back in the 70s, and re-found eachother twenty years later. Quite quickly, we both concluded that somewhere back in time we’d been together forever, and this was just another chapter in the same book. Even so, it took him a while to say he loved me. This man treads slowly.
The slow tread took me a long time to respect because I dash everywhere, on foot and in my head. He does something properly the first time, while I return repeatedly to stick patches on a rushed job. I walk quickly, while he sees where he is going and doesn’t fall over the kerb.
Mark is also completely true to himself, which I admire and envy. He never alters his persona to fit a situation, and his job has never defined him. My personality and my status are contained in what I do and without my job, I’m lost. Mark is simply himself and work is a means to money, not self-recognition.
We had ten months together before cancer arrived, too soon into a fledgling love affair, but when would have been a good time? We survived it side by side but separately, and continued finding our togetherness. The second cancer diagnosis (on the day before our wedding), was definitely ill timed and the hardest to bear, but with hindsight it set the benchmark that made subsequent recurrences easier.
Chemotherapy, mastectomies and debilitating surgeries are a fair way to test the strength of any marriage, but being unable to have children was the blow that felled me; my husband would’ve become a wonderful father. He didn’t say much about it at the time, just that he understood my distress. We got used to it together.
We used to be more adventurous; I wonder if these days we cling to our routine and comforts to lessen the effects of things we can’t control, or whether it’s a natural progression for two aging earth signs? I’m just grateful for evenings spent on the sofa, reading our books, with the cats asleep in front of the woodburner. I have no hankering to see the Seven Wonders when I have domestic bliss under my nose.
I can’t really tell you how Mark treads the balance of living with death, because having dealt him that blow I feel too guilty to look deeply. We deal with practicalities as a team, and employ the Humour of Doom to lessen the bitterness of unpalatable topics. I notice that sometimes the whisky bottle empties quicker, and I know when he lays awake at night. We both think we’re good at hiding things from eachother, but we’re not. We just hang on by our fingernails to what we have, trying to ignore the fact cancer is hanging there with us.