Stephanie woke me around 1 a.m. on Memorial Day, complaining about her knee. The pain, she insisted, kept shooting up and down her leg, but centered in her swollen knee. Groggy, I thought she was being a baby, but after watching the incessant pain rake over her face, contort her body, I knew it was real. Thirty minutes later, we were in the emergency room.
Tired and uncomfortable and smelly, we waited for hours for doctors and nurses. Stephanie, who hates needles, acted brave. But the blood draws and IV line left under her skin put her on edge.
Originally they said we’d have to follow up with ortho later in the day. By the time we got results, the ortho specialist was in. The doctor—a man just past middle age with the gruff, sparse cadence of a Clint Eastwood impersonator—drained blood and puss from her swollen knee. He made me leave the room first, never explaining why. I waited impatiently, trying to listen through the door. Long minutes later, he rushed out, gripping the blood-filled syringe.
Inside, Stephanie was crying. “He said they need to do surgery,” she said, though she didn’t know why. What she said next showed on her face, a sentiment Stephanie often doesn’t express. “I’m scared.”
The doctors believe her strep throat spread to her knee, causing it to swell, but they found no bacteria pockets during surgery. Her blood cultures didn’t reveal any infection either. But during the procedure, my brain bounced between three questions:
Why this? Why now? Why her?
Why would some rare strep throat complication happen? Why so close to the wedding? Why to Stephanie, someone who’s dealt with so much BS, pain, and loss in her relatively young lifetime? Three basic questions, zero answers.
Home after two days in the hospital, Stephanie is recovering from the knee surgery very well. She’s working from home. She doesn’t let much slow her down. She’s tough.
But it is a damn shame to have surgery twelve days before your wedding. To spend so much time thinking about walking with crutches, when you should be thinking about walking down the aisle. People have asked, Are you two upset? This, my friends, is called a rhetorical question.
Of course it’s upsetting—after all the time we put into planning how exactly June 6, 2015 will unfold—to see . But we’re going with it. There’s no use in raging about it, since there’s nothing we can do to change it. Not a thing.
Whether Stephanie walks, limps, wheels, uses crutches, or rides in a palanquin, I will marry her. I’ll carry her if need be. I’m dead set on making things work. When it comes to marrying Stephanie, those three questions are easy to answer.
Why this? I know marriage is a big step, but we’re ready. A friend once told me that when you get married, you just don’t have to worry about being alone, about looking for someone. That may be a poor motivator, but in a way, I’ve felt like this with Stephanie for a while. I absolutely need her and don’t want anyone but her. No matter what, she’ll be there for me, and I’ll be there for her.
Why now? We’ve been together nearly five years, known each other even longer. Maybe it’s because we live in Indiana, where you may as well join a monastery if you’re not married by thirty. Probably not. We want to make the jump, not because we feel pressured. Believe me, the pressure was much greater when we first started living together. As it gets closer, I don’t dread our nuptials. I desire to be married even more, to the point I’d say my vows, sign the papers today.
Why her? The easiest question. In premarital counseling, we had to make a list of the five reasons why we love each other. Mine focused on how great Stephanie is at what she does, how she pushes me to be better through her understanding and blunt honesty. We supplement each other’s weak spots, but we also complement each other’s strengths. We just match. We like the same things, think the same ways, carry the same ethics, and believe hard work makes anything possible. Together we’re more than whole, if that makes sense.
I could go on and on about those three “whys.” But first I’d have to ask one “how.”
How much time do you have?