Where do I even begin when it comes to talking about my wife and this journey that we have been on thus far? People build their lives around this preconceived notion that things will always go according to plan and ultimately that can set them up for disappointment. When I met Brooke over 3 years ago I wasn’t all about plans because let’s face it I didn’t want to face disappointment anymore. But from the moment I met her everything in my life changed, and I knew I had one plan that was going to take place and that was spending the rest of my life with her.
When I met Brooke, I was not aware what Cystic Fibrosis was, how someone got it, how it affected those that had it, or that it did not have a cure. I came into the relationship oblivious about the ins and outs and ups and downs of having CF and what it took for someone to take care of themselves with it and everything else along those lines. All credit goes to Brooke because on one of our first dates, she opened up about her CF and explained to me the high-level information about it and at that moment gave me an opt-out of walking away if I couldn’t handle it because she would understand. To this day I will never forget that conversation with her because I was listening to her tell me that I could walk away and all I could think about was how I only wanted to get closer.
Our first date was on June 17th, 2015 and on July 16th, 2015 we began dating. Time spent together flew and we grew closer and closer as the days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. As we grew closer, I learned more about her CF and the care that she had to give herself to stay as healthy as possible. The first time she garnered up the confidence to do her breathing treatment in front of me, she made me put on her vest first and try it. To this day I don’t know how such a small woman handles all that shaking day in and day out.
As time progressed I tried to be her sidekick when it came to taking care of herself. Her mom had always said the phrase, “A lot of prayer and a lot of care” as the reason she maintained such a good health record. Which I knew if I wanted to spend my life with her I would have to be the one that would help maintain that good health record. So, in time when we were leaving to go places it was always checking to make sure she had her enzymes and if we were staying overnight all her necessary machines/medicines/etc. Additionally, if it’s the dreaded CAYSTON month, I’m the one pushing her to take her machine with us on our day trips to get that afternoon dose in because as she’s heard me say a million times, “it only takes two minutes.”
Finally, this past August 18th we became husband and wife and took our relationship to the point that I had wanted for oh so long. Seeing her walk down the aisle to me brought tears to my eyes as it solidified the belief I had held for so long that being her husband would make me the luckiest man in the world.
We spend our time together knowing that we must take every single second together as a blessing because life is too short in every aspect not just with someone who has CF. We go on adventures constantly, we are season ticket holders for Virginia Tech Football, we visit places neither of us have been, we visit places we have never been together, we make it a point to make as many memories as possible together all along the way. Those memories that we have built and continue to build every single day together are worth more to me than any physical item in the entire world.
I say it all the time to Brooke, but I want to put it out there for everyone to hear and see. I cannot thank her enough for all the hard work she does for me, for us, but most of all for herself. I know the breathing treatments can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing but every time she completes one I see it as more time that we get to be together. I have seen her graduate nursing school, pass her boards, become a registered nurse, complete her bachelor’s degree, work multiple nursing jobs, start her master’s degree all while keeping her health in check. You want to talk about the ultimate balancing act, that’s what she does every day and I couldn’t be more thankful for it or prouder of her.
So yes, we have hard days, we have trying days, we have days where she is run down, and we just do our best to relax and get through it. And yes, she constantly reminds me that she’s grateful for me and dealing with her “extra baggage” (literally and figuratively) as she calls it. But when it comes down to it I reiterate one phrase to her over and over in our relationship in those trying times we encounter and when she feels bad for needing to catch her breath or take a break from something and that is, “In this life, I will take as much time as we have together because every single second with her is better than any kind of a lifetime without her.”
I pray for a cure one day that solves this disease and allows everyone born with Cystic Fibrosis to live a long, full, happy, and healthy life. Until that happens, I make a point to bring awareness to it the best I can because the sooner that cure is found the sooner we can change what CF stands for. In the meantime, I applaud all those who have CF and do their best to keep themselves as healthy as possible and I applaud those spouses, parents, caregivers, etc. who help to make sure those with CF know they have the best support system they can imagine.