I remember those words 33 years ago (at the time of this writing). Standing there beside Joelle, I promised her that I would be there no matter what. She promised the same to me as well. Sure enough, our promises would be put to the test.
We’ve definitely had our share of great times, such as our kids being born, getting our first house and even our second, finding a great church. We’ve even spent the last 12 years working together on weekends as wedding photographers and we had a blast doing it. We got to see other couples exchange the same vows, celebrate with them, take lots of pictures, and eat lots of great food in various places. To Joelle and myself, it was almost like date night and it never felt like work. Of course, there are plenty more great times that I couldn’t name them all. And no matter what, we stuck together. I stood beside her and she stood beside me.
And we had bad times. When I suffered depression, she sold her piano to get me the Anthony Robbins Personal Power CDs. I would go crazy worrying about her when she got seriously ill, after Joshua was born. I can’t say that I had things figured out. In fact, I probably had nothing figured out. All I knew is that Joelle means almost everything to me and I would go crazy without her.
33 years after these vows were exchanged, nothing changed. When I fell and ripped the muscle off my knee, Joelle would get up in the middle of the night caring for me. I felt like a real burden to her because for those 8 weeks, I could not take care of myself in the simplest of ways. I was in tears because I felt like I was such a burden. Joelle would look at me and tell me “for better or for worse…”. Joelle also laughed and said “you owe me”. What we didn’t count on was what was to happen six weeks after I was finally back on my feet.
Joelle has been diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. Admittedly, I have been a mess for the past two weeks, knowing my best friend is in pain and has the battle of her life and all I can think is that she doesn’t deserve this. And in all that, all I can think of is for better or for worse. I will not leave her side. I want to be there to help her fight through all of this. It’s funny that she wondered if I should even be there for her chemotherapy. I wouldn’t even think of being anywhere else but right beside her. I’m not going to leave her side. I love her way too much.
To all of the brides and grooms that Joelle and I had the pleasure of serving for the past 25 years, Remember the vows you shared together. Nothing will ever show how much you love each other more than keeping those vows, not only when times are better, but when times are worse. Your marriage will be stronger because of it.