In Sickness and in Health

People always ask, “How do you do it?”  The question seems to cover all sorts of bases in my fight against cancer.  How do I stay so positive? I don’t. How do I have the energy to do everything I have done in the past 5 years?  I don’t. How have time to raise a family, be a good husband, and focus on my health? I don’t. I cannot do any of these things with even near the satisfaction I would like.  From an outsider’s perspective, however, I do them all in an extraordinary way. The only reason I come close to achieving these goals is because of my wife, Alix. I stay positive because Alix takes the role of the realistic one who asks the tough questions and shocks the doctors saying, “If this was your son, what would you do?”  No one wants to know or ask; Alix does because she is strong enough to know, not because she wants to know. I don’t have energy to take care of my kids and focus on my health. Alix is an incredible mother. She works her butt off, yet still makes the time to put the kids first, never spiteful that I sleep for 72 hours straight. When I have a philanthropy or restaurant commitment that I should probably have cancelled long ago, it is Alix who penciled it into her calender and makes sure we have extra family around, or extra meds around, so that I can fulfill my commitments because she knows how much these events help to make me still feel as if I have a purpose, or am in some way still “normal”.  Why does she do all this? That’s a damn good question. I, after all, have the easy part.

The easiest part in this cancer battle for me will be the day I die.  That’s all I have to do – DIE. I do not stay after filled with tears and heartache.  I do not have to juggle arrangements, financials, wills, money, etc. I do not have to look in the eyes of hundreds of people who give their condolences while half their head is tilted toward the earth in that pitiful look.  I do not have to answer to two young children on how this could possibly be fair that the God we teach them loves unconditionally could possibly have taken their father from them. No, I have it easy. Even during my 17 hour surgery, she would sit there with her phone answering text after text, phone call after phone call about how I was doing.  There was no copy and paste answer, that’s not Alix. She is the most personable woman I know. It is not fake either.

When we had just had Catherine, she got an interview with a medical sales company.  This would have been absolutely perfect for her. She has a medical background, a passion for health, and could charm the pants off of anyone.  She did not pursue the job, however, because she knew the hours and travel would be heavy. She wanted to be a Mom first. She also let me put my career first.  I never thanked her for this. Moreover, though, I think it was also hard to “fake” the sincerity she shows in her companionship with people. In her pilates, she is selling herself.  Even though she is her biggest critic, she still believes in herself, as do I. She is trying to implement preventative medicine, making people more healthy first, so they avoid body and mind problems later.  

Alix, this is for you.  I admire you more than you know, and more than I have ever said.  This is to all the husbands and wives of terminally ill spouses, who go too often unnoticed and underappreciated.  My goal is to live the rest of my life trying to make sure she is no longer taken for granted. It is much easier to underappreciated than over appreciate, and I have never been one to do things the easy way; just ask Alix.

~ Carl