The Face I Love

Six years ago, you faced the biggest challenge of your life. Bigger than Pain. Bigger than Cancer. For me. For ours. For me. 

I let you make the decision, promising to stand behind you whatever road you chose.  We knew there was nothing else we could do. Nothing else we could try. Surgery three times to remove the stubborn disease that grew time and again. Grew faster and stronger through radiation and chemotherapy. There was only one man, one surgeon, who was willing to take a risk…but only if you were. Not for a cure, but maybe for control.  Maybe for an extra two to five years. Maybe. But at what cost? Your face. Your right eye. Removal of most of the right side of your face. Reconstruction from your fibula. Skin grafts. All to remove the cancer growing in your sinuses. Causing extreme pain. Taking years off of the long life you should have lived. 

Once you made your decision, I swallowed my fear. Fear of putting you through yet another surgery. This one more risky than any of the others. This one scheduled to take 24 hours or more. Fear of the consequences. Facing the cruel world afterwards. A world that puts so much value in appearance. I hid my fear from you, offering you strength. Cancer had already taken so much from us…and now…your face. The face I love. 

Six years ago, we prayed together. Six years ago we cried together. Six years ago, when I asked you why. Why were you willing to risk this?  The face I love? “Babe, I will risk it all. Two to five years will allow me time to watch our kids grow a little more. And…I can’t leave you. I love you.”

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”       – Lao Tzu 

Loving our kids, Loving me…it gave you courage. With our future so uncertain, with your life on the line, I wiped away my tears and promised you that as long as you were willing to fight to be with me, I was willing to fight alongside you. And with that promise, with your hand on mine, with our heads bowed in prayer, my heart so filled with love it surrounded me…I looked at your face. The face I love. And memorized every line, the color of your eyes, the length of your nose, the curve of your lips as you smiled. Every inch of this face that I fell in love with so long ago. 

As they wheeled you into surgery, they stopped to give us one more moment. You squeezed my hand. You looked into my eyes. The look on your face stamped into my memory. “Babe, I love you. I’m not leaving you. I will fight and I will come back to you.”  One last look before the doors closed behind you. One last look at the face I love. 

When I think of you, I remember you as you were. Before the surgery. Before the cancer. Before the surgery….Then I remember you after. My love for you stronger with every passing day. No matter appearances. No matter at all. You were still my guy. Still my love. None of that changed. I loved you even more. For fighting. For keeping your promise of coming back to me. For showing our children what real bravery was. For loving us, loving me, more than yourself. 

So today, I will remember us six years ago. Praying, hoping, fighting. I will remember why you did it. For the kids. For us. For me. I am so lucky to have known a love like that. Love bigger than illness, bigger than surgery, bigger than vanity, bigger than fear.  

About Finding Me Again

Mom to four of the best.Grandma to the Sweetest.Daughter.Sister.Aunt.Friend. Widow.
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