When I married P, not everyone thought it was a good idea. He'd been very sick during the year and a half leading up to our wedding, with multiple hospitalizations and two real brushes with death, and I imagine a lot of people wondered why I would want to deal with all that. In fact, I know they did, because some of them said so, either outright or obliquely. After all, I was only 24, just about to graduate from college and get started in life. Surely I could break things off with P -- kindly, of course -- and find someone just as nice, only healthier. Right?
Well, no, actually, I couldn't, because I loved P. I didn't love him because I felt sorry for him or because I thought he was the best I could do. I loved him for who he was, and because we fit perfectly together, and I would have done anything, accepted anything, in order to be with him. I would have sold everything I owned and lived in my car with him. I would have moved around the world and left everyone I knew behind. He never would have asked me to do any of those things, but I would have done them. Not being with him was not an option; I never even considered it. Knowing that I might (and probably would) lose him one day only made me more determined to have as much time with him as I could.
So we got married, and I never regretted it, not once. But as P got sicker, he started to feel inadequate and guilty, thinking that he wasn't the sort of husband and father that G and I deserved. He used to say that he was holding us back, that we'd be better off with someone who could have a regular job, or who wasn't in and out of the hospital all the time. I always told him that it wasn't true: he did a lot for us at home (which he did -- you've never seen anyone clean a house like P could), and more importantly, that he couldn't be replaced. We weren't a dollhouse family where you could just pop a new doll into the "dad" position if the old one broke. We were all unique and perfectly fit to each other, and not one of us was interchangeable with anyone else.
I believed this one hundred percent, but I don't think P ever did. In his heart, I think he thought that even though I loved him, I could and would replace him with someone "better" after he was gone. But that's where he was wrong. Of all my reasons for not wanting to get married again, one of the strongest is this: I don't want to create a situation where people might look at my life with someone else and decide that it's better than my life with P, and by extension, that it's a good thing P died. It will never be a good thing that P died. Moreover, I don't want anyone saying or implying or even thinking that what he feared most -- that his illness made him not good enough -- was true. I know it wasn't, but I also know from experience that you can't control what other people think. They see the outside of things and make snap judgments: "She ought to dump him and find someone else to marry." Or, " I'm sure she loved that first guy, but she's so much better off with 'Joe' here." Well, the hell with that. I won't have it.
I don't mean to say that I plan to live life in stasis and never improve my situation. If there's an opportunity for us to travel, or buy a real house, or do any of the things P and I would have liked to do but couldn't, then I'll absolutely take it -- but only if I can make it happen on my own. There'll be no "new dad" swooping in to save us, because we don't need saving. We don't need someone better than P, because there is no one better. For us, he was perfect just the way he was.