I was returning to the hospital today and I heard the new Mumford and Sons song “Beloved” for the first time.

I tell you, I’ve been holding my shit together pretty well, only breaking down into an ugly cry once since this whole ordeal started. (That was in the recovery room after surgery, when my husband’s face looked ashen and he was virtually unconscious. No lie that he looked dead and I broke down.)

Everybody is telling me to be strong. I don’t know if that’s because they think I’m a wimp or that they too would have a hard time being strong in this situation or if that’s just what people say in times like this.

But trust me: I am the Queen of Denial when I want to be, and that’s the mode I’ve been in for the past week since all this started.

Until I was driving back today and I heard “Beloved.” Here’s a snippet of the lyrics:

I had to pull over to the side of the road. I had the ugliest cry, choking on my snot and finding it difficult to breathe. Apparently, denial only goes so far.

But it revealed and reminded me of the truth that’s often so easy to forget: to love deeply is to risk loss and devastating heartbreak.

The truth is that we’re all dying and so is everyone we love. We all hope it will be at a nice old age, after we’ve had the chance to fulfill all our dreams and make all the memories we wanted. We hope for no tragedies, no premature losses.

But sometimes life doesn’t work that way. Remember that even Disney movies usually start with the death of an important loved one, and those are supposed to be our culture’s happiest tales.

I’m well aware that the survival rate for my husband’s cancer is pretty good, although we’ll know more in coming months. The surgeon warned us that he may not have been able to get it all due to the nature of this particular cancer growth itself. He also described it as an “aggressive” cancer, which isn’t the most reassuring term.

But it’s also a scary reminder that I am guaranteed nothing. I am not guaranteed forty more years without the pain of losing him. I am not guaranteed to die first, like I’ve assumed ever since I got my MS diagnosis.

So whether we have another year or ten or forty, I have to do more to show him how much he matters to me. To not let the stress and hecticness of everyday life let me take him for granted.

Before he leaves, he must know he is beloved.

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