I am still trying to figure out what it means to be a wife. What does it look like? What does it feel like? How can I serve this marriage, and how can this marriage serve me? I had less than two months before the term “newlywed wife” turned into “chief caregiver”. A few months ago, I was spending afternoons at Social Security offices, tediously trying to change my last name. And then, BAM. "Wife" suddenly meant so much more.
There’s honeymoon wife, there’s newlywed wife, there’s nesting wife, and then there is the thousand step jump to “cancer wife”. The first time I had the opportunity to say “I’m Tommy Walker’s wife.” was at a hospital. There first time someone asked, “Are you his wife?” was by a doctor. My new title had a unique new context.
I have had moments (many, many, moments) (and many, many more to come) (and many, many more after that) where I have felt overwhelmed during this process. You would expect that the weighty title of “cancer wife” would have added to this stress, but somehow it didn’t.
It’s showed me what it means to REALLY be a partner in life. It’s not about the cute gifts you hide around the apartment or the breakfasts in bed. It’s not even about telling your partner “I love you” when you wake up. It’s about holding them, and telling them you know it will be okay when your world is crashing in and you have no idea if it will be okay. It’s about laughing together when you should be crying, and crying together when you should be laughing. It’s about putting your life on hold, and not searching for blame. It’s about being comfortable being pushed away when they don’t feel well enough to spend energy on you. It’s about holding hands hard and taking ten-minute coffee breaks together to reconnect after a tough week.
I have no idea what being a wife will look like next week, next month or next decade. I know what it looks like this morning. This Monday, being a “cancer wife” is sticky, and messy, and painful. It’s also the most important thing I’ve ever done. If being a “cancer wife” for a while makes me a better “wife” as we travel life together, I can find space in my heart to appreciate it. Despite the pain, despite the fear, despite the confusion. I am a 26-year-old “cancer wife”, and I have no clue what I’m doing. I am a 26-year-old “cancer wife”, and I am going to be the best damn ****ing cancer wife you’ve ever seen.