"Is your back hurting you, Mama?" a cool little hand slides up my shirt and rubs my back.
Most mornings, my room is her first stop after waking. She slips in quietly, reheats my heating pad, and returns to tuck it over a nagging shoulder, a back that feels broken, or a throbbing hip.
Heat quiets the pain and promises soothe my fear.
His promise to love in sickness or in health.
His promise never to leave or forsake me.
Chronic illness crept in and changed our lives. It doesn't affect just me. It changes our marriage, our family; the rhythms of everyday life.
Today I sit in pain, as if a cloak of discomfort has been settled over my shoulders and wraps around my entire body. I feel like a turtle that just can't get up to speed. But I sit assured by the love my family has for me, something chronic illness hasn't changed. I'm still his wife, still that girl he fell in love with over a decade ago. I'm still their mama, and despite the limping and fatigue and feeling decades older than I am, I'm still the one who bakes cookies, reads stories, and braids wet hair.
I'm still me, and I'm still loved. Chronic illness doesn't change that.