Chronically in Love: The V-Day Edition

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Photo credit: Jeanette Rotondi

Photo credit: Jeannette Rotondi

All the way back to sixth grade, I can remember being obsessed with Valentine’s Day…flowers, candy, cards, jewelry. I loved all the grand gestures and hullabaloo that surrounded the holiday. My Dad used to send me singing telegrams with carnations and my mom always made sure I got a cute card and a much-desired present. As a child whose parents listened exclusively to the Oldies station on the radio, I grew up on love songs like “Something” by The Beatles, “All I Have To Do Is Dream” by The Everly Brothers, and “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers. The one that stuck with me the most was a song called “Never My Love” by The Association and I immediately decided that it was the greatest love song of all time and would be played (possibly more than once) at my wedding. When you look at some of the lyrics, it’s kind of hard to argue with my logic:

“You ask me if there’ll come a time
When I grow tired of you
Never my love
Never my love
You wonder if this heart of mine
Will lose its desire for you
Never my love
Never my love
What makes you think love will end
When you know that my whole life depends
On you (on you)
Never my love
Never my love
You say you fear I’ll change my mind
And I won’t require you
Never my love
Never my love
How can you think love will end
When I’ve asked you to spend your whole life
With me (with me, with me)…”
~Never My Love by The Association
I mean, come on! There will “NEVER” be a time when you won’t “REQUIRE” me? Heavy stuff. But I always liked the idea of someone depending on me, requiring my presence in their life. That’s how I felt about those I loved.
When I began experiencing chronic migraines at the age of 19, things changed a little bit. Having someone depend on me or require me felt like a lot. I had been told by people who didn’t really understand my illness that I was actually the opposite of dependable. Many friends and loved ones decided that they did, in fact, no longer require me. My illness and all that came with it was too much. I kind of lost hope in the idea that I would find someone who was willing to put up with everything that I bring to the table.
Fast-forward a couple of years: My migraines were still chronic and currently thought to be the result of a sinus blockage and I was preparing to have surgery in a few weeks. I didn’t feel well, didn’t go out much, and wasn’t particularly interested in going out on the cold night in early December. But it was Eoin’s birthday and he was one of my best friends, so I had to go. Parties were not something I regularly attended during that period of my life. When my best friend and I walked in the door, we noticed three older guys standing in the corner in suits. Of course, that made us curious so we hung around their general area until they began to talk to us. It turned out that one of them was Eoin’s older brother and the other two were his friends. One of them kept asking me if I wanted a drink (alcoholic) and I kept firmly but politely turning him down. His persistence began to wear on me so finally I told him “Look. I get really bad migraines. Drinking makes them worse and alcohol also interacts with some of my medications. So I am not drinking.” He looked startled but replied “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” I smiled ruefully. “I know. It’s not like I wear a scarlet “M” on my forehead. I don’t really like talking about. In fact, I’m kind of done talking about it now.” He nodded and I turned to talk to my friend. Later that night, another one of the trio of suited gentleman offered to get me some ice water. He was kind and handsome and mysterious (so much so that he wouldn’t tell me his name, being referred to simply as “The Dukes”.) I had no idea what would become of him or the hours we had spent talking or the innocent kiss we had shared before I left. Except I kind of did. I had this feeling. Roughly a month and a half later, we went on our first date.
Fast-forward 8 years: “The Dukes” (who I found out is actually legally named “Ian”) is still my boyfriend and best friend. He is the guy who brought me ice water that first night. He helped me on with my coat. He didn’t know what he was getting himself into. But he has stuck beside me through every difficult thing I have had to endure. From letting me choose his deodorant because my migraines are triggered by certain smells to laying on a stretcher in the hallway of the Emergency Room with me for 17 hours, he has never shied away from the good or the bad. Which brings me to my point, which I think is best made by a quote from one of my favorite television programs, The Middle:
“Valentine’s Day is a high-pressure holiday. Luckily, when you plan on loving someone for the rest of your life, you have plenty of other days to get it right.”
That’s the thing: Valentine’s Day is just a day. It’s a day that Ian and I aren’t even spending together this year because of the vast and snowy wasteland that is Massachusetts this winter. But I can still recall the time I walked into his kitchen while he was still at work and all of my favorite foods were lined up on the counter, none of them containing any migraine triggers. (Later, he told me “Have you any idea how hard it is to find a frozen pizza without aged cheeses? I was in the frozen foods aisle for half an hour!” I laughed and laughed.) Or the time we were in Vermont and I had to stay in the hotel room all day with a severe migraine and he brought crackers, Coke, Ginger Ale, and Lorna Doone’s to the room so I’d have something to take my meds with and caffeine to help with the migraine. I was understandably upset because our annual Burlington trip is my favorite of the year and we had been planning to go to my favorite store (The Sox Market) and it was our last day there and I was in so much pain and so frustrated that I sobbed into his shoulder “I’m so sorry. I love you. I’m not good enough for you.” He gently took my head and said to me “You are exactly right for me and I am exactly right for you,” and he tucked me in, turned off the lights, and kissed me as he headed out to meet our traveling companions for the afternoon. He called to check how I was doing and said that, if I was feeling up to it, I could pick the restaurant we went to for dinner. Then, when we got back to the room, he produced a bag from my favorite store, the store I hadn’t gotten to go to, that was full of warm, fuzzy, and fun socks. I could go on, but this post is long enough. My point is, love does not exist solely within a day, nor does it necessarily manifest itself in store-bought cards and flowers and chocolates and diamonds. Love can be warm, fuzzy socks and a migraine-safe frozen pizza.

2 thoughts on “Chronically in Love: The V-Day Edition

  1. Nikki

    I was in so much pain and so frustrated that I sobbed into his shoulder “I’m so sorry. I love you. I’m not good enough for you.” He gently took my head and said to me “You are exactly right for me and I am exactly right for you,” and he tucked me in, turned off the lights, and kissed me
    Hi I’m the chronic caregiver in my relationship. It’s hard to hear when he says those words to me-I’m not good enough for you. It feels like he is pushing me away. Hurts like the proverbial sock in the belly. I never know what to say. Your b/f said it perfectly. I’m writing it down.

    Liked by 1 person

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