By Susan Rahn
You just turned 16.
It seems like I blinked and you went from a curious toddler to a handsome, bright young man with such a bright future within your grasp. I so excited for you and can’t wait to see what path you choose for yourself. I’m confident you’ll choose wisely.
There is so much I want to tell you but I know how much you hate ‘mushy’ letters. This will not be one of those. This includes important things to remember for when you choose a partner to share your life with.
You’re probably shaking your head at me because of how things didn’t work out with me and your Father. I may not seem like the best person to be doling out advice but I have a very unique perspective that I didn’t have before.
Obviously, you’ll want someone who loves and respects you. You’ll want someone that you can laugh with and share memories with. Everyone does. You’ll also want someone who drives you a little bit crazy with the particular way they do things. It’s OK. It will remind you of why you fell in love in the first place.
You’ll want someone who shares some of your interests. It’s OK if there are some differences. If you both liked all the same things life would be boring.
Now pay attention because this is important. This is something few are told and even less consider when choosing a partner…ready?
Be very, very certain that if your partner or you ever have a significant health issue that both of you will be committed to each other. That you’ll support each other emotionally because that’s so important. Neither of you can ‘check out’ emotionally because things get scary. Be sure that you’ll both dig your heels in and support one another. Don’t be so selfish that your feelings become more important than her’s regardless of who is ill.
If one of you has a medical issue, there may be days of moodiness or frustration or anger. You’ll both have to be strong enough to not take it personally. Believe me…it will be hard; maybe even harder than the illness itself. But if you can’t do this, your relationship won’t survive.
You both may have to do difficult things for the other person, like administer shots or learn how to give nutrition thru a feeding tube.
You’ll have to understand that there may be days where one of you may be in pain or nauseated to the point where leaving the house just isn’t an option. Don’t harbor resentment. This isn’t being done “on purpose”.
You or your partner may talk about difficult topics like death or end of life decisions. You both may not want to talk about it but the conversations need to happen. Neither of you can shut down on the other. Share your feelings no matter how difficult it may be. Keeping it to yourselves will only isolate the other. Opening up about how you’re both feeling will bring you closer and that’s what you need to do.
I don’t mean to be depressing but these are things I never considered. I always thought it never could happen to me. But as you know it did. Learn from my life. Be thankful you have this to learn from.
I pray every night that you will be spared from having any significant illness and I pray whoever you share your life with will always be healthy. That neither of you will have to be a caretaker to the other. I want only the best for you in all things.
So, for now, tuck this letter away in a safe place and when the time comes and you’re considering marriage, pull this back out and read it again. Really read it.
Love you to the Moon and back,