COUNTDOWN: 2 DAYS

Today is my husband’s 35th birthday. And, it officially marks the next 3 months where I relentlessly call him an “older man” until I hit my birthday. I take full glory in all of it.

So, in honor of Jorge, who doesn’t always get that much attention in Mb4M, I’m dedicating this entry to my husband, my partner, and my friend.

Jorge and I have been together since 1996. We were seniors in college when we started dating. That’s pretty much the only fact in the story that we both share. Jorge and I have different versions of how we met, when we first were aware of one another, and how we started dating. We have different recollections of the first date, the first kiss, and the first “I love you.” But, I remember when I knew that Jorge was “the one.”

About a month ago, I was hanging out with some of my students and they were asking me about when I knew that Jorge was going to be my husband. “Don’t say, ‘I just knew’,” they warned me. “We don’t want to hear that you just knew. We want to know how, why, and why not.”

Jorge has always been someone I admire, some one who I look up to, and who I respect. When we first started dating, I remember thinking, “I could listen to you and talk to you forever.” I remember getting the jitters when I knew he was calling. My heart would honestly skip a beat when he walked into the dining hall. But, I loved that Jorge was so smart. When we were together, I did lots of listening. I listened to his views on the world, his observations on politics, race, growing up in Queens, and seeing the changes in his family as they embraced God. He was a 21 year old guy who loved comic books and transformers; And he could also direct a full theater production, cast, crew, and occasionally write the script. When we both worked at the same school, I loved watching him teach. And, I know that my skill as a teacher, facilitator, speaker and writer come from being an informal student of Jorge’s.

On his birthday, today, Jorge wrote: “Love isn’t a lifelong state. It’s a daily choice.”

It’s so true. Over the past 14 years, Jorge and I have had our ups-and-downs, our share of fights, near break ups, near breakdowns. We’ve been through more in our short lives than most people will see in their entire lives. There are some days we have come out strong and glorious. There are some days we have come out bruised, battered, beaten. We carry some emotional scars and we also carry some  victory medals. We’ve also had lots of reasons to celebrate — personal goals, professional goals, our family, our friends, our health.
But, each day is a choice. It’s a choice to be in love, work on love, and stay in love.

Some days it’s easy. Some days it’s not. But, each day, its a choice.

Whenever I do “the cancer lecture” at school, someone always asks, “What does your husband think of all the BRCA stuff — the gene, surgery, the fact that you may have passed it on to your kids?” It’s a tough question, but I always welcome it. It gives me the opportunity to say that, despite disagreeing on things like money, our overly inflated mortgage, what to eat for dinner, who’s going to drive the car, etc., Jorge has never, ever made me feel guilty for BRCA or the choices surrounding it. He’s never once made suggestions about what kind of surgery I should have, when it should occur, or what I should do. It’s always been my decision. And, especially in these past 6 months, Jorge has been amazing about giving me the space to go running, to explore the journey towards a mastectomy, and to write openly about this experience.

Thank you, Jorge, for choosing me. Thank you for choosing to support me in this journey. Thank you for our beautiful family and for making life interesting, worth it. We haven’t had it easy, and we haven’t always been easy on each other.

Peace, love, and making the choice every day,

Liza

Happy Birthday, Jorge!

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