Several years ago, my wife kissed another man.
It was a brief kiss in a bar after too many tequila slammers. It probably only lasted a few seconds, at most, and then, supposedly, she pulled away from the guy and told him she was married. That’s what she said to me when she got home. She was honest with me right from the start.
And still, I managed to find it in me to condemn her.
It was a mistake. She could’ve gone home with the guy. She could’ve just kept kissing him, pushing her dull, insignificant husband to the back of her mind. But she didn’t.
She came home and told me what she’d done because I know that even when we have our differences, she loves me. I see that now. But I didn’t at the time.
I let my anger brew for a long time. I kept my anger close to me, and I used it against her. I was bitter. I’m surprised she stayed. My behavior could’ve easily driven her away. But she remained. Even though we have no kids to keep her here, no commitments other than the rings on our fingers – and what do they mean these days, anyway? – She stayed. I didn’t appreciate that.
Until the day she was diagnosed.
She told me she was going to the doctors for a check-up. I didn’t offer to drive her there or take the day off to sit through the appointment with her. I let her go to receive a terrifying news by herself.
She had breast cancer. And there I was, sitting at work, oblivious to what my wife was going through. When I got home that night, I found her weeping on the sofa.
When I tried to comfort her, she let me.
She shouldn’t have, after the way I’d treated her. I expected her to pull away. But she never did. She snuggled in close, and she told me that no matter what happened, she loved me. It was like she was trying to comfort me for something that was ruining her life. I realized how pure the woman I’d fallen in love was. I knew I didn’t deserve her, not even for a second. My pride had swallowed me whole and blinded me to how much I genuinely love her. She is all I have, and I spent years punishing her for one simple kiss. My eyes have been indeed opened.
I’ve got a lot of making up to do. I do everything with her now. I take her to the hospital. I buy her flowers to put beside her bed when she has to stay overnight. I run out to get her favorite foods so that she doesn’t have to suffer hospital grub. I work an extra day so that we can have money for her treatment. It took me far too long to realize that I have everything I need for my wife. She’s everything to me, and she could be slipping away. Now that I see that it’s not that I love her more – it’s just that I am more aware of my love for her.
My wife has breast cancer. She might not recover. But I won’t leave the woman I love alone again.
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