While John and I were having a nice, romantic anniversary dinner last weekend – our 28th – I was thinking of another man. And another couple’s marriage. And how, when you say those words, “in sickness and in health,” you never really know what you’re getting into.
As anybody who has read a few of my posts knows, John and I have been both lucky and unlucky through the years. I’ve had a lot of health issues that neither of us bargained for – infertility and Crohn’s to be specific. But through it all, John has been with me every step, helping me, cheering me, making me do things I don’t want to have to do.
Illness effects all members of the family, and changes their lives. Some people rise to the occasion, and some are brought down by it. I am delighted to say that I’ve been truly lucky to have this guy with me through all the , ummm, shit. I even nominated him for Sainthood when he survived a particularly, ummm, nasty point in my Crohn’s.
But the other man I was thinking of on our wedding anniversary was Charles Gulotta. OK, I was thinking about his wife, Jill, too. So don’t criticize.
Two weeks earlier, I’d finished reading Charles’ memoir, the Long Hall.
It’s the story of how Charles and Jill met, fell in love, married, and had a daughter, Allison. It’s also the story of a simple twist of fate that changed their lives dramatically, when Jill suffered a stroke during childbirth. It’s the story of how Charles went from a happy expectant father, to a shocked but loving caregiver to two very different people, one infant and one adult, with very different needs.
It is now a month since I read the book. And honestly, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. The story sounds a wee bit depressing, doesn’t it? I will admit, there are a lot of rough patches. But that’s not what I found so memorable. What stayed with me is a constant feeling of hope.
Often, when I’ve read Charles’ delightful blog, Mostly Bright Ideas, I’ve felt that he’s gotten into my head, asked questions that have been milling around in my mind for years. With The Long Hall, Charles got into my heart as well. And I really think that this book will stay with me, always.
Read it. It is the most uplifting story I have read in decades.