Dude Note: The following article, written by yours truly, appears in the latest issue of Simply Gluten-Free magazine. It’s a good publication run by good people. You can subscribe here.
Hey there my special Valentine. It’s me. Where do I even begin to describe what you have meant to me during our celiac journey? And yes…I do mean “our” celiac journey, because as you always say, celiac is not just about me but it affects the whole family. Indeed it does.
But let’s face it…it hasn’t been just celiac. We’ve had quite the ride. Our marriage started off with a bang…literally…when we lived through the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. Even though both of our neighboring apartment buildings got “red-tagged”, ours was deemed safe. But not to us. LA just was not meant to be.
Since then…we have certainly had our ups and downs. You know what they say…for better or for worse. In sickness and in health. Bladder cancer, breast cancer, blood clots, and let’s not forget this wonderful disease we call celiac. In 2007, the diagnosis threw our world upside down. Whereas the earthquake literally threw our world upside down, celiac did so in a completely different way. Everything we knew about eating had to change. And not next month, not next week, not next Friday, but NOW. With no guidance, no assistance, no one to walk us thru this new gluten-free world, when our first question was simply “What the heck is gluten???”
On the first day, you went out and got me new pots and pans. You created a dedicated counter in our kitchen that was off-limits to anyone but me. You provided me with my own pantry. You bought my own blue sponge. You educated yourself. And the most amazing thing of all of this…you never blinked. Rather than let it overwhelm you, cause let’s face it, it can be seriously overwhelming, you approached celiac like you approach everything in your life; with a fierce determination that it would not beat us and it would not control us.
Should we talk about all of things you needed to now be aware of with my diagnosis? You wrote the following to me several years ago, which defines perfectly how our life has changed. It was a list of things you never knew you would need to worry about. You titled it “I Never Knew”.
- I never thought I would hear myself say “DON’T KISS ME. I JUST ATE A BAGEL!”
- I never thought I would worry about what color sponge my kids use (on that rare occasion when they wash the dishes.)
- I never thought that once my kids outgrew the diaper bag years, I’d have to pack one for my husband (for food…not diapers.) Dude note: not yet anyway.
- I never thought I would be the hostess that would tackle my guests before they reached into the icemaker without using the scooper.
- I never thought I’d use the word “contaminate” so much.
- I never thought I would spend so much time hating a tiny little protein that you can’t even see but still makes Gluten Boy sick!
- I never thought I’d have to dissect the previous nine meals we ate when he doesn’t feel well.
- I never thought I would become the supermarket whore that I have become. I bop from one to another without looking back!
- I never thought we would be the ones that food servers cringe at.
- I never thought I would need my reading glasses to food shop!
- I never thought Google would become such an imperative ingredient in my cooking.
- I never thought I’d get so mad when the Dude emptied the dishwasher this week and put “his” cutting board in the girl’s bread drawer.
- I never thought I’d have to worry about the dogs licking his face (our dogs are NOT gluten free).
- I never thought I’d be married to someone with the nickname “Dude”.
- I never thought I would come to respect a group of people I have never met as much as I respect the celiac community.
You know what I never thought? I never thought I’d be blessed enough to marry such an amazing human being. You are my rock. You are my best friend. You are my soul mate. Somebody was looking out for me when they brought you into my life. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Here’s the poem I wrote you for our twentieth anniversary.
I made a simple trip
To celebrate Aunt Carol’s birthday
And out of the city I slipped
Who would watch Lauren
While we went out and ate?
Aunt Carol had a plan
And boy did that turn out great
(Dude note: She got Mrs. Dude to babysit my niece. That’s how we first met.)
It took me a good three weeks
To make the dreaded call
Would she even remember me?
Does she know I’m not that tall?
My fears were totally unfounded
As you put me so at ease
It was like I knew you forever
And dang was I ever pleased
We set up our first date
Sushi and a movie
By the time the night had ended
We both knew this was groovy
It only took 11 months
Before we both knew
We wanted this forever
Ya ti bla le blu (Dude note: Russian for “I love you”)
Our wedding was just perfect
Our honeymoon the same
Then it was off to LA
To find my fortune and fame
(Dude note: I went to LA to continue my [failed] acting career).
But instead of finding fortune
We found unsteady ground (Dude note: Northridge Earthquake)
Our love was truly tested
And east coast we were bound
We settled in New Jersey
Plainsboro to be exact
The early years were rocky
But I would not take them back
Because we were tested early
And came through even stronger
I knew our marriage was meant to be
And we’d stay together much longer
Along came our dear Courtney
Our life would never be the same
She was such an amazing gift
With such a beautiful name
Three years later it was Maddie
Our family was complete
Throw in two great puppies
Our life could not be beat
We made the move to PA
Into the house of our dreams
Our marriage could not get better
Or so that it seems
But something strange keeps happening
My love for you keeps growing
How does this happen after 20 years
When many marriages simply stop flowing?
I’ll tell you how it happens
The answer is crystal clear
I married the perfect woman!!!!
I want everyone to hear
Thru celiac and cancer
And don’t forget the clots
And yes let’s throw in migraines
When you’re seeing tons of dots
You’ve held it all together
You are this family’s glue
Your strength is awe-inspiring
Your looks are not bad too!
You’ve aged with grace and beauty
Yes even when your hair was down
You are my pride and glory
Well…maybe not when your hair was brown
(Dude note: She dyed her hair…results not as expected.)
So today we celebrate
Twenty awesome years
We’ve laughed, we’ve loved, we’ve lived
We’ve gotten thru some tears
Isn’t that what marriage
Truly is about?
All that life dishes out
I love you more than words
Can ever fully say
You are my perfect soul mate
In every single way
So let’s raise a glass to us
As I make this toast
I love you no matter where we are
The east or the west coast
And if the next twenty years
Are anything like the previous ride
I’ll be the luckiest guy in the world
Because you are by my side