Am I too sick to wed?
From the second my fiancé slid a ring on my finger on Christmas Day three years ago, I wondered if it was fair to him for me to say yes. My doubt had nothing to do with whether I loved him; I was certain I did. I wondered if the autoimmune disease that damaged nearly every organ and joint in my body made me too much of financial and emotional burden to be anyone's bride. Still, I said yes and started planning like any woman would.
Of course, the first thing I thought about was my dress. Up to this point, I'd only ever loved one dress, Bijou by Amsale. But, with a price over $8,000, I knew I couldn't afford that and a reception so I tried to get it out of my mind. For days, I was melancholy thinking about how much money is spent on my various medication, procedures, surgeries, scans, x-rays and doctor visits over the years, that left me with little or no money to shell out for a wedding. Yet, I was optimistic that I could work and save up the funds.
Despite this, I went to look for a dress with my college roommate Diane, my mother and one of my dear friends, Kiada. I hate shopping so I decided to do bridesmaid, mother of the bride and wedding dress shopping at once.
In less than two hours, we'd selected a dress for my mom and settled on something for the two bridesmaids. Finding something for me proved to be more challenging, even though two of the samples fit like a glove, I left empty-handed. The dress weren't Bijou.
Within days, I called to get an appointment at our dream location: Lincoln Center on Manhattan's Upper West Side. It was perfect because it was across the street from the television station where my fiancé and I work and met. We also had many of our early dates in the same neighborhood. Everything about it met our expectations. Unfortunately, the price was so steep we knew it would take us years to afford it. We had no choice but to look elsewhere.
It turns out we found a unique venue in Jersey City, New Jersey that overlooks the skyline in New York. It's pricing made it far more attainable so I had the manager draw up a contract. And, when he learned of my medical struggles, he called to pray with me; that's when I knew we'd made the right choice.
Over the next few months, we filled out the wedding party, picked the song for our first dance and the priest to marry us. We decided on a color scheme, finalized a menu and even selected the items on the desert table; that included Professor B's Exotic Cheesecakes made by my dad. I even collected all of the addresses for the people we intended to invite.
What I didn't know during that whole time was that my constant swollen lymph nodes were telling me something. My doctor then a head, neck and throat surgeon told me exactly what they suspected: lymphoma. I had surgery a week after the diagnosis. A month later I had a second surgery to take out what was missed. And, just like that, the wedding plans were on hold and my finances were tapped out.
About a year later, my fiancé and I set a new date. However, a quick trip to the hospital one Friday night alerted us to a new problem; this time with my stomach. I scheduled a surgery a month or so later; that spelled the end to the second date and the money we'd saved again.
I'd almost considered setting a third date when my legs suddenly stopped working. My condition caused inflammation in my spine which led to nerve issues; those paralyzed me. To fix them, I underwent six procedures over four months and relied on a cane the entire time. The cane is a most gone from my life but so is my bank account. I know my fiance would marry me at City Hall if I said so but I now wanted the wedding. I would rather wait than let my illness rob me of another experience.
With my most recent medical trials nearly over, I'd begun to wonder if it's fair to ask someone to spend a lifetime of medical uncertainty with me. Every time I fell ill I watched him sleep less, pace and smoke more, and scour the Internet for some non-existent cure for my condition. At the same time, I constantly re-read the traditional marriage vows that say each of us will remain "in sickness and health." I'd started to believe my fiancé was getting a raw deal; that is until he told me he didn't care if he had one day or a hundred with me as long as we were together. I realized, in that moment, that I'm not too sick to wed because I found a partner who will love me in both the good times and bad, our life just isn't going to be easy.
To read more from Nika: http://nikabeamon.com