I write this post on my husband’s birthday. It won’t be posted on his birthday, though, because we’re currently at the Emergency Room. Again. Third time this summer. He has just been wheeled back to radiology for chest x-rays, which will certainly come back clear, just as they were clear when his doctor ordered some earlier in the week. Tonight I have watched as doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and more surrounded him from the moment we walked in the door and someone ran to get him a wheelchair. Like I’ve written before, this is not an unfamiliar environment to me.

And that’s why this post is not about Chalupa’s asthma or his health issues. This post is about his birthday and all the good things we share.

Let’s start at the beginning, with the short version of the story of how we met and married:

Chalupa and I met in college, although we wouldn’t date until after we had both graduated. The first time we met, our mutual friend Neville (the coolest of the cool, best of the best, awesomest of the awesome) and I were reviewing movies together for the campus newspaper and invited Chalupa to join us. Chalupa sat quietly in the backseat, only chiming in occasionally with something relevant or funny or insightful. The next summer, I got an e-mail from him. Something like: My friends and I get together at my apartment on Monday nights to watch movies. Neville told me you’re in the area for the summer. You should come.

I decided to go, even though I barely knew Chalupa and wasn’t sure who would be there. The rest of that summer, I went to Monday night movies at his apartment and hung out as the only woman in a group of college and post-college-aged guys. We watched action movies as a group, and then after everyone else left, Chalupa and I stayed up late watching online trailers for movies we were excited about seeing.

Movies. Movies, movies, movies. Before we were dating, we saw countless movies together in the theater. We have no official first date, but I’m sure if we had to pick one outing to represent our first date, it would have been at a movie theater.

A year and a half after we started going to the movies together, we realized we were dating. One night, three in the morning, sitting on the couch in my room after talking since 9pm, and we’re like, “Dude, I think we’re dating.” We’d never held hands, never kissed, had barely even flirted, but we were together.

Eight months later we were engaged. Six months after that, we got married.

In November, we will have been married for seven years. In those years, we have lived in six places. When I got into grad school, Chalupa moved with me to New Hampshire without a single complaint. When I graduated and saw that there was a job opening in Indiana that seemed possible, he said, “Apply! See what happens!” I got the job, and he said, “So let’s move back to Indiana!” That’s twice that he has uprooted his life to help me start my career.

We have a daughter, Ruthie. She is three years old and absolutely the funniest person either of us know. She loves that he can answer all of her questions about Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, and she loves that he plays Iron Maiden for her to dance to at bathtime. She thinks her dad is the coolest.

Chalupa can beat me in any game. He can quote movies far better than I can–even The Big Lebowski, which we quote like it’s a second language. (Parle usted Engles?!) He remembers a ton of people that he went to high school with, whereas I have trouble putting names to faces all the time. He can teach anybody how to do anything–he can skillfully distill any information to its most basic components and explain it to people so that they can understand it.

Chalupa is quiet, and he is funny. He doesn’t like to celebrate his birthday, and he doesn’t really like desserts. He does like sandwiches. And cheese. And Mountain Dew. (Gross.)

And while this post is not about his respiratory problems, I will say this: Chalupa is incredibly tough. I don’t know that I could handle the health stuff he has to deal with. I have watched him struggle to breathe for our entire relationship, and while it undoubtedly affects our lives on a daily basis, we have created a normal life four ourselves. We often communicate wordlessly and efficiently, especially about his health. I have learned to watch him and to interpret his behavior and actions to know exactly what is going on inside his body. He never whines or complains about his health difficulties–he knows it could be much worse, and he makes it a point to do everything he can to maintain a sense of normalcy. In the years we have been together, his health problems have forced us to learn to listen to and trust each other in a way we wouldn’t have needed to otherwise.

I want to wish away his health problems. I want to wish away arterial blood gas tests and nebulizer treatments and canceled vacations. What makes us lucky is that those are the only things about our life together that we’d wish away.

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