Three years ago today my husband, J, pledged to love all of me forever (despite my chronic illness). His vows even included a promise to get me my favorite “sick” foods when I am to ill to make or acquire my own food. What a man.

Three years later I can say that although maintaining a marriage while living with multiple chronic illnesses is not at all easy, it is worth it. J has not only kept his vows, he has risen to challenges to that very few partners in their 20s have to face. He has lovingly learned to run my IV medications, so that when I am at my sickest I can fall asleep in his arms rather than with a home healthcare nurse watching my every move. He took off work for over a week to stand by my side when I was hospitalized out of state AND brought along our 12 week old puppy so that she wouldn’t be lonely. He even brought her to the hospital to visit! He makes time to take me to countless appointments and procedures. He advocates for me when I am too foggy to ask the right questions. He drives so that I don’t have to. The list goes on and on.

To me, these are greater acts of love than the dinner we will go to tonight or any card or gift that may be exchanged between us. This is how he shows me everyday that he loves me as much or more than he did on that day three years ago.

J, today I want you to know that I am so very grateful for your love and care. Thank you for staying when many others would have left. Thank you for being my anchor in this storm. You keep me steady, so that I can be brave. I know that you feel the immense pressure of providing all that I need to be as healthy as possible. Thank you for working so hard to ensure my ability to access quality care, so that we can secure our future together.

Thank you for all of the little things you do to make me laugh during the hard times. Those doodles on the hospital white boards? They mean more than you know!

Most of all, thank you for recognizing that love is a verb, not a noun. That it requires work, and is fluid, changing and growing with us. Thank you for doing that work, even when it’s not easy. After eight years together and three years of marriage I can confidently promise to keep doing that work with you.

I love you always,