Fifteen years ago I married my best friend. We’d only known each other six months, but by then we’d already been living together for five months. We just knew. I am sure everyone around us wondered what the hell we were doing. We didn’t care. We were happy.
I’d only met Tony’s parents once before we got married because they had already retired to Florida. We stayed at one of their townhouse rentals which made our trip to Florida to get married that much more affordable. I think all in all we spent $2,000 on our wedding, and that included airfare for the four of us and our honeymoon in Key West! My wedding dress? It cost $19 at Filene’s basement.
But right after we got married Tony got in a fight with his Dad. A fight that lasted 7 years without us speaking to each other. In April 2007, I came home to find Tony hunched over in his recliner and he said he was having trouble breathing. I wanted to take him to the ER right then and there, but he said he didn’t want to go to the ER at night. Gah, that man could be stubborn! We finally went the next day and they didn’t really know exactly what was causing the problem, but they ended up pulling two quarts of liquid off of his lungs – no wonder he couldn’t breathe! After three days, one day they hooked him up to an EKG machine, and then all of a sudden everything changed.
Nurses and doctors came rushing in and they immediately rushed him down to the cardiac ICU. I had stuff around the room, my purse, etc., and I just without thinking started gathering my stuff and one of the nurses had a look of panic in her eyes and said “I’ll bring this stuff to you – just go with your husband!” We had just been watching a movie together five minutes ago, and fifteen minutes later when I got down to the ICU and they let me in to see him, he was hooked up to so many machines and lying flat on his back.
Endocardidis (sp!?) was the diagnosis and they needed to do an artificial heart valve replacement. Wow, this was serious. Serious enough that I knew I had to call my PIL and tell them about Tony because if you googled endocardidis, the prognosis for survival wasn’t in Tony’s favor. So I called them. After not talking to them for 7 years. They dropped everything and drove up and got here just in time for Tony’s surgery.
When Tony woke up and saw his parents, he know whatever was going on wasn’t good. He actually had no idea he’d been in the hospital for 16 days, or how close he’d come to death. And I vowed that I would never let him know that. I figured why did he need to know he almost died?
Until the day we were getting discharged and one of his doctors came in and said “You look great – I can’t believe we almost lost you.” And Tony looked at me like “what?!” It took him a long time to wrap his brain around what had happened since he was asleep for most of it. He made me tell him every detail over and over for months afterwards. He said he never wanted to not know he could have died because he wanted a chance to be able to say goodbye to everyone.
I think overcoming the artificial heart valve gave us a false sense that Tony could overcome any medical obstacle, no matter how grim it may seem. Which is why it still surprises me over a year later how quickly he went from being okay to gone in such a short time.
We always talked about when we retired. We’d buy a house on a lake with a big kitchen so I could cook all the time and we’d be able to walk to the water (without too many stairs!) and go fishing and watch the sunset. And just be together.
I miss his hugs, him telling me how beautiful I was even if I was 175 pounds or 140. It was an unconditional love that I may never find again, but I am thankful for the nearly 14 years we had together. I know some people go a lifetime without a love like ours, so I will just be grateful for the years we had together.
So Happy Anniversary Tony! I know you are looking down on me and watching over me. But I still miss you so much. I love you!