As we were courting, I asked him if he had a history of any critical disease. Aside from him sharing some infections here, and there, he didn’t seem to recall much of being ill growing up- not even chicken pox, common in children. Quite the contrary with me who constantly battled ulcers as a teenager, mostly because of academic distress as I recall it. Fast forward, and we’re under the same roof then boom! He utters, “Darling, I feel a certain itch between my thighs. Could you get a flashlight to check better what’s there?” I was perturbed. Why did he seem so disturbed with a usual itch? It should have been something that was going to pass, I almost shrugged. Little did I know, just what a stretch was ahead of me.

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I did check the spots, which seemingly looked like some pimples. He sounded quite worried, and I immediately mentioned, “I think you’re either reacting to something, or this is chicken pox in it’s early stages.” Probably, my experience of being a first born, and a mom had predisposed me to seeing skin conditions often, and the ruling out seemed quite accurate. He’d eaten a different meal the day earlier, a West African delicacy of chicken wings with okra. Was that affecting him? We thought it was better to sleep over it, and observe it the following morning, after administering some Centrizine to work as an antihistamine. Should it be an allergic reaction I figured, the skin would be better by morning. Wrong I was, for in the morning, he woke up with a full blown change. The seemingly two small pimples had multiplied, ravaging his whole body, making him look somewhat like an ogre, in some of the children books we read. Yes, the picture wasn’t good. In the days that followed, as I nursed fevers, checked his receeding appetite, and bathed the poor man, I gained more perspective than I had within the time we’d been married.

My spouse’s chickenpox-stricken chest.

Companionship is key in a marriage

“You see darling, even if I had all the money in the world, it wouldn’t make me suffer any less. Best I’d do is to hire a nurse to do my cleaning, a private chef to whip up my favorite. Yet, in our current state, I’ve felt the warmth of you being the one to bathe me like a child, and prepare the meals I love. Thank you for nursing me, darling.” So were his touching words one morning after I had completed his ointment application. Indeed, it may have sounded mushy, or probably too basic some tasks to warrant him to thank me. However, it stamped onto the authority that indeed, with a companion, your healing is faster. When your partner is ill, taking care of them the best way possible is all you can give. Companionship is about giving. By giving my time, and love in doing seemingly mundane tasks, he felt the truth in my promise to love him in sickness, and in health. Those vows carry more depth than we can imagine.

Being patient with your partner goes a long way

Did you think that cleaning a nearly 7″ tall man is for the faint hearted? Nor is consistently trying to help him feed, at least to regain some strength. You need a special grace when tendering an ailing loved one, as it demands much front you. Sometime back, I’d visited a new friend, who had invited me to her home to check some items I would help her sell. While in the car, she mentioned she was rushing because she had left her son at home alone. I asked his age, and she said 20. It sounded strange to me, that a mother would rush to look after a 20 year old, only to find that he was mentally impaired, and his bath time was near. His mother, to date cleaned him. After the session, she looked at me as we went through the items, and broke the silence saying, my son is autistic. He’s all I have, and I take care of him best I can. Months later, and now I’m taking care of my spouse with the same keenness, doing things only which you’d expect someone’s mother to do without flinching. Indeed, being patient with your partner in the season, definitely helps them feel loved, and your dedication to caring for them matters.

Trying to keep a family alive is not for the faint-hearted.

How immobile your home gets when one gets sick

For a moment there, I did imagine how hard being a widow is. Not that I was mistrusting his healing process, but with how fatal in adults chicken pox can be, a girl had to be visited by worry! It was during this time that I realized that I didn’t know some things which he’d normally do, which I had to quickly learn. Thankfully, he was speaking, and could help me know what to do. For instance, his editing work stalled. I didn’t know how to operate some funds withdrawal as he had some passcodes. Had he not shared with me how to go about it, I’d be unable to access funds. Indeed, I learned the essence of maintaining oneness in marriage. Not awaiting for disease, or other calamities to spark you into communicating, or showing interest in the things your partner handles. For with a blink of an eye, your title as a wife, could move to a widow, and the heavy crown shall be yours to carry.

Looks can change (especially with chicken pox), but you should love your spouse the same

I remember going through some selfies we’d taken recently, to remind myself how he looked like pre- disease. Evidently very different from how he was now. Spots all over, dotting his previously flawless skin. After applying his ointment as I felt how rough, and bumpy his skin was now, I wondered if he’d return the same. Did I love the other version of my partner more than I did this one? Did this season of him looking this different, make me want to run away? It brought me back to my reasons of marrying him in the first place. Ofcourse I loved how drop dead gorgeous he looked, back in campus, with a clean shave, and beautiful caramel skin. Then here we are. Total opposites. Through my consistent caring for him, I reminded myself that he was still my choice. I’d grow to love his spotted look, and encourage him that he’d be better. So yes, love remains. Love sustains. Because looks can change. By taking pictures with him even in his state, it made him feel loved too. I mean, we still loved to be by him. That’s all that mattered.

With us off the critical stage, the power of get well soon messages has never been so impactful. From family, to friends, having a community of people who notice you’re unwell, and proceed to send their well wishes is encouraging. It empowered us not to feel alienated. It showed a sense of care, extension of love, and Indeed, proof that in marriage, two become one. His friends, and my friends all came together to wish us well, and oh how beautiful that was! At the end of the day, love is all you have, and all you can give.

Rachel is a mum of two boys, blogger and a lover of writing all stuff inspirational. Anything to inspire women and mums and you'll find her there. Check out her family's YouTube channel too @presentfatherhood

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