Photo by Kendra Kerscher of The Loud Camera

In the week that John’s been on Hospice there’s been a shift. For the first time in two years, we’re not strictly focused on his cancer (beyond keeping him comfortable) because it just is and there’s nothing more to be done about it. The fight is over and we have started letting ourselves focus on his life and all of our wonderful memories of time spent together, funny stories we’ve all heard him tell a dozen times or more, and saying “I love you” to each other over and over again.

In the midst of that shift, someone messaged me last week and said she’d love it if I’d share our love story…how we met, when we fell in love, etc. I realized I’ve never done that here on this blog or even on Facebook really. And it’s something I really want to focus on right now.

I’d love to say that we met in some kismet-driven, sweeping romantic way, but the truth is we are a Match.com success story. We became friends first and spent time getting to know each other. I honestly didn’t think he was “the one” in the beginning because there wasn’t a huge chemical attraction. But the more I grew to know him, the more attractive he became. Apart from being incredibly handsome (in my very biased opinion), he’s the most beautiful person on the inside that I’ve ever met. Since John lived in Richland (about 60 miles from me), we dated maybe once a week or so for about a month. The more time we spent together, the more time we wanted to spend together.

I can pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with him. It was about six weeks into our relationship. We’d had a wonderful, fun evening with him giving me a tennis lesson and then making me dinner at his place. We were very quiet and totally absorbed in each other. Out of nowhere he looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “You deserve to be defended.” I knew, in that moment, that he was the one who would do that for me for the rest of my life.

That was about six and a half years ago. We lived together for two years and then got married on the spur of the moment on a Labor Day trip to Las Vegas in 2011. We had four amazing, fun-and-family-filled, blissfully cancer-free years together before he was diagnosed on October 29th of 2013. It dawned on me last week that I have to consciously think about how we were “before cancer,” about the man he was before this horrible disease began stealing his energy and the wife I was before I became his caregiver. One thing that hasn’t changed in the past two and a half years is his positive outlook on life and his absolute love and support for me and those about whom he cares.

I told him this morning they should put the words, “What can I do for you?” on his headstone because he’s always, ALWAYS thinking of what he can do to support others. His love language is acts of service. He even said to me this morning, through an oxycodone induced haze, “Just want to make sure you have everything you need.”

All I wanted to do was grow old with him. He’s the one person who completely “gets” me, who loves the same sappy T.V. shows and movies I love, who I want to share experiences with, travel with, eat and sleep and love with. There’s never been another love like this in my life and I can’t imagine there ever will be again. Our love is fun and secure and peaceful. It’s my happy place and my sanctuary. He is my home.

Through it all he has, indeed, always been my defender, had my back, and loved me in spite of everything. That is a gift I will carry through my life, no matter where I am. Most people don’t get the chance to be loved that way and I will never, ever take it for granted.

And, as I’ve said before, our love wins. It’s the way we “beat” cancer, no matter what the outcome of John’s life is. It’s the one thing cancer can never take from us. #lovetrumpscancer #ilovejohnny