I'm proud to say that Johnny and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary several days ago. Hard to believe it's been that long! We took a pass on taking a big anniversary trip abroad this year (postponed until next year when Bernadette's a little older and mom is a little more rested), but we enjoyed a wonderful evening out, thanks to Paola and my parents.
Of course, with 10 years of marriage, comes 10 years with lupus, given the fact that I was diagnosed just 6 weeks after our wedding. Back in the year 2000, we had the most wonderful Thanksgiving weekend wedding, thoroughly enjoyed the most spectacular honeymoon in Hawaii, and then within days of our return flight, my chest pain and other symptoms began. And boom...six weeks later, I had myself a chronic illness.
The cool thing is that I no longer think of my life as "before lupus" and "after lupus", even though I used to. In fact, I could have probably told you the days, hours and minutes I'd had lupus during that first year or so. But now, life is just "life" - and the blessed, abundant existence I have today is just as fulfilling and rewarding as it was pre-lupus, if not more so. I have two beautiful daughters under my belt, a handsome, loving husband who couldn't be more supportive, a book, a blog, a pug, and a wonderful circle of friends and family that I wouldn't trade for the world.
Today, I don't think of my life as a series of sacrifices, missed opportunities, or acts of desperation, as I did in the beginning years with lupus. Sure, there are compromises and negotiations that I continue to make, but those decisions fall in line with the way I want to live, despite my illness, not the way lupus forces me to live. No longer am I at the mercy of the disease, having to fight and claw my way through each and every day. The absence of pain is a glorious thing - and I continue to make choices to ensure that it stays like that.
So to Johnny - I say let's go another 10 years, squared. And to lupus - I say, "Bring it." I'm armed and ready to live well, despite you!