I had thought about marrying Nicole for a long time, actually. I need to start listening to that little voice in the back of my head that tells me things like this.
I had never felt that way about anyone before. The certitude. The assuredness. With people I’d dated in the past, “love” always felt like a considered, almost rationalized opinion. I would say “I love you” to that person because I cared about them a lot, and because I enjoyed their company. I wasn’t sure exactly what love was, but after a certain amount of time with someone, you kind of just have to say it anyway. And in my head, I would have a debate. What is “love,” anyway? Isn’t it just what we decide that it is? What did it matter if I wasn’t sure? It’s normal to have doubts, etc.
Well, my friends, as much as it pains me to say this: I was dead wrong. All those annoying lovebird friends of yours, who say obnoxious things like, “when it’s the right person, you’ll just know,” well, it turns out that they’re right. You will just know. You won’t question it. You won’t have to remember to say, “I love you.” You’ll want to say it. You’ll want to tell them how much you love them. You’ll feel it on the inside, deep down in your soul. In your heart of hearts. When it’s the right person, you really will just know.
Like I said way back at the first part of this story, I asked Nicole if she wanted to stay with me after the diagnosis. I basically knew the answer was yes. All I had to do was turn the tables, in my head. What if she were sick? Would I peace out? Hell no. Never. When I posted my story on Reddit – a popular social media website, for the confused – so people could ask me questions about all of this, someone asked me a rather odd, though quite telling question. If I had the choice between being cured and losing Nicole, or not being cured and getting to keep her in my life, which would I pick?
I think it seemed rather odd because, to me, that’s not even a question. There is no choice to be made whatsoever. I would rather die, even at a very young age, with her being part of my life, than to live to 115 without her in it.
Our wedding was the single best day of my life. It was a huge, fun, awesome party with great food, great drinks, awesome music, and we had all of our friends and family were there to spend it with us. I’d been to a decent number of friend’s weddings in the past. It sometimes felt like the reception was over right as the fun was getting started, so we decided that we were going to have at least 5 hours of open bar.
Picking the music for the dances was fun too. Nicole and her dad kind of have “their song” that reminds both of them of her growing up, and they both got pretty misty eyed. For my dance with my mom, I picked “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce. He’s one of my mom’s favorite artists, and the general theme of the song is that there’s never enough time left to do the things you want to do, with the people you want to do them with, and that you wish you could capture all those happy feelings before it’s too late. It seemed pretty appropriate given what had been going on, and my mom pretty much lost it and started crying immediately – in the good way. So I think I picked the right song.
And the rest of it was just the DJ basically doing his thing and playing all the awesome wedding songs that a bunch of uncoordinated white people like to dance to – and the dance floor was packed. It was an absolute blast, even if I did have to take a few breathers here and there from all the dancing! The last song we played was Bohemian Rhapsody. Almost every single person who was still there was out on the dance floor rocking out and singing along with the lyrics. It’s one of my favorite memories from that day.
I guess the stereotype is that most guys don’t care one way or the other about their wedding. That wasn’t my experience. I was always excited to have a wedding. They’re always a great time. And, at your wedding, everyone is there for you, and you know almost everyone. But, after my diagnosis, it became even more important to me. I don’t know how many of those big, cornerstone moments I have left in my life, but now I will always have that experience to remember. Even if the end of my life is in the near future, I’m very thankful that I’ve been blessed with so many such wonderful events in my life to look back upon fondly, when it’s my time to go. Experiences are what matter in life. They’re the things that make you happy. And on that day, I was very, very happy.
I had to bite my tongue super hard during the ceremony to keep myself from tearing up with joy. Even then, it was hard to say the vows out loud without getting choked up. My voice cracked like a 12-year-old boy’s. I’ve been told that I suffer from RAF, or “resting asshole face.” It’s a fake medical condition where you look like you’re mad all the time, but really that’s just your default facial expression. Well, on our wedding day, there was no RAF to be found. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat.
Continue reading in the next installment by Christopher Graham here: Chapter 6 | Part 4: A Trip to Paradise and a Return to Treatment
Read the previous installment by Christopher Graham here: Chapter 6 | Part 2: An the Rest was History