I know it sounds caveman-like, but I really believe that most men want to be able to take care of their loved ones and fix their problems, whatever they may be, no matter how complicated. They want to have the answer and make everything okay. It isn't always possible to fix it, but they sure do try. That is certainly true about my husband and my brother-in-law, and it is a quality that I hope we are instilling in my son as well. They have been such incredible, rock-solid foundations for my sister, dad and I throughout all of this, and I truly believe that without their support, we may have crumbled at this point. Without them, we would be lost.
I had the honor of toasting my sister and her new husband at their wedding, and it turned out to be even more meaningful a moment than we had anticipated when I was asked to be the Maid of Honor. (I refuse to be called a Matron...sorry.) In my toast I described how his love had made her a complete and joyful person, and how his love for her had actually brought my sister and I closer together. Of course, I did not reference my mother's changing behaviors during the toast, but it was clearly on our minds, and as I looked at my new brother-in-law, I felt at ease. Before me stood a man that I knew I could count on to take care of my sister. Their vows said, "For better or worse...", and this kid had already endured some of the worst life has to offer before he had even said, "I do." The pre-wedding time usually involves the couple completely self-absorbed, stressing out about reception and honeymoon details, but all the while knowing that once the day came, it would be wonderful, and they would have their whole lives to live happily ever after. My brother-in-law literally watched his fiance's family fall apart right before his eyes. I sincerely believe that many would have run for the hills, but not this guy. He could have, but instead he jumped in and continues to provide that protection and support that has helped hold us all together.
My husband, on the other hand, he had no flipping idea what he was in for when he married me. We will celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary this year, and fourteen and a half of those have been pretty normal. Sure, we've had our share of sad times as we've lost family members, suffered a miscarriage, and both lost jobs, but nothing that was ever as all-consuming as my mother's illness has been. He has, for all of this time, known me to be an easygoing optimist. He was used to seeing me smile 99% of the time, and then this crisis descended upon us, and he had to watch me fall apart at the seams. He had never seen me in such a dark place, and I know that's been hard for him because I can see it in his eyes, but you'd never know it otherwise. His dedication to this family has blown me away. When I look back on all he has done, though, from supporting Dad to leaving work early for yet another crisis, I have to say that there is one thing that has been the most beneficial. He has been unwavering in his intent to keep things as normal as possible. If left to me, holidays may have been skipped, and parties unattended, but he would have none of it. He's maintained a life for us that resembles normalcy, and that has made all the difference.
Those are our guys. I could go one forever, really, but I won't. What I will do is end this post in a way that will make them smile. It's only fitting...they've kept us smiling all this time. So guys, what do you get for being so amazing? What's your prize? When you and your friends are hanging out, drinking beer and trying to one-up each other with mother-in-law tales, you will win every time!