Have you ever watched the old movie, ‘I Married an Ax Murder’? No I am not making a parallel to my marriage and a crazy, ax carrying lunatic running around chopping at the air! But the fact Johnny and I do mentally walk around with axes in our hands, slashing at such a vial villain as the pink beast on a daily basis does cross my mind! This movie dances into my thoughts sheerly based on the title, and the memories it brings back to me some 15 years after Johnny and I tied the knot.
On April 27, 1996 I married my soul mate, Johnny, the love of my life just six months into our whirlwind romance on a late beautiful breezy spring afternoon. Our wedding, an outdoor ceremony was held under the canopy of vast large oak trees, with the scent of roses and lavender tickling our noses. Of course, as in any good love story there were ups and downs, upsets, laughter, and a few who said it would never last. I remember being asked the question, “Christina come on, you haven’t even known him very long how do you know he’s not an ax murder? “ I can bet you he heard much of the same too. I can even imagine many of our friends becoming temporary bookies, taking bets coordinating the odds for and against us. Fortunately for Johnny and I, no one actually collected on any of those “I give ‘em one year tops” bets. After 15 years, two wonderful children, countless medical bills, our on again, off again sanity, the loss of a job and my own battle with breast cancer I would say we have defied those odds!
Now I understand why some may have scoffed, simply not believing in love at first sight or placing bets on the ax under the pillow scenario. Personally I really don’t buy the whole, swept off your feet in one glance, slip a glass slipper on my foot daydream one bit either. If I am going to be completely honest with you I would say “those types” are few and far in-between. Seriously how can two complete strangers know the moment they meet, the very second they lock eyes on one another they’re in love…really? I am almost positive, mama warned me about days like these, seriously isn’t that the stuff of fairytales and what not? You know the land of far, far away, as in never finding it? I don’t know about you but I may have grown up on tales of castles, finery, romance, love at first sight and happily-ever-after but I certainly didn’t whole heartily grow up to believe with any certainty I would or could ever find a real life ‘off into the sun set’ kind of love.
Now with all that said, I want you to understand I do believe two souls can and many times do recognize one another from the moment they cross be it in the middle of the night, over the phone, via the internet or as in Johnny and I’s case the paper. From the first whispered hello I can’t help but believe our souls recognize they are meant for each other. I absolutely subscribe to the crazy notion, and yes I have the nerve to believe souls mates, kindred souls are more than fanciful terms for true love. This was the case with Johnny and I. We didn’t need years to fall in love madly; we were already connected, in a way we truly did not even understand at the time ourselves. Our souls truly fused from the moment we met. Yes we really did experience some sort of a silly symphony, you know the kind, “how do I keep from tripping over my feet to be next to you “kind of moments, just like everyone else. But I will warn if you think we were bosom buddies every day, all day long one, without a “please stand clear of the doors Por favor ” moment, then you are greatly mistaken my friend. Believe me when I say we have had plenty of those days right from the word go. What I do know is this: whatever forces may have been against us they were not strong enough to keep us apart! Our souls connected without a doubt; on such a deep, life altering level… immediately, we were helpless to do anything but collide. This same ridiculously radically infused force which screamed “SOUL MATES” while singing it to the tune of Soul Man also made sure to navigate us to the alter where we said I do, just some six months later.
Jump ahead almost 10 years down the road….
We were still singing “Soul mates” and yes to the tune of “Soul Man” with our sunglasses on and suave hats upon our heads. What we didn’t see coming, the reality that hit us when we weren’t looking, the fact there wasn't supposed to be any kind of cancer in our fairytale, especially not breast cancer, knocked those sunglasses and hats right off our heads!
Come on, when you think of the ideal women, walking down the aisle or dancing cheek to cheek with her prince in a gorgeous, cleavage revealing gown you don’t envision her lope sided now do you? Sure you may think padded bras but surely not missing boobs! The down and dirty truth came crashing into our world dissolving our once perfect picture of happily ever after just six months (we have a thing for six months don’t we?) after Johnny and I bought, signed and sealed the deal on our first home. The ink had barely dried when Johnny and I watched the beast walk through our door, coming for our life, the one we had carved out together only 9 years and 9 months after we said “I do” putting our vows to the real test, “in sickness and in health”. I have to tell you having breast cancer invade our lives in the peak years of our young marriage turned out to be a bit surreal of a situation, honestly. I mean what do breasts have to do with anything right? Why do we need them anyway? Come on what man really wants to see cleavage or bouncy bundles of womanly form when his bride walks down the aisle or gives him a ‘come hither ‘look anyway? Truth be told boobies do make the bride to some degree, but boobs do not complete a woman. Sadly, like it or not, ta ta’s, boobs, boobies or whatever you like to call them do play apart in how we see women don’t they?
So instead of planning for a grand 10th Wedding anniversary party in our new home, in our newly constructed castle, we found ourselves falling down the royal stairs, backwards, head over heels as cancer tried to break us. Cancer put her best foot forward to cut us off at the core. She dug her foot into who we were not just as a Mr. and Mrs. or King and Queen of the new castle we were living in but made her best attempt to split us apart as soul mates! I would have gladly lost my glass slipper on the way home from any ball; instead I had the privilege of losing my breast before my fairy godmother could sing bippity boppity boo and turn my pumpkin into a royal coach! Instead of dancing with my prince (no not charming, but still my prince all the same) at the ball Johnny and I were left running, dodging heart shaped spears while the Red Queen screamed, “Off with her breast” literally! It was as if Cinderella’s step mother had joined forces with the Red Queen of Hearts rolling into town leaving our world as we knew it upside down, tangled in calamity.
Who knew when I married my husband; becoming Mrs. Johnny O, at the age of 22 we would be facing breast cancer? I certainly didn’t but our love was forged stronger by the mere existence of those two words. My husband loves me just the way I am, lope side and all! If you ask him he’ll tell you he is in love with a one boobed, bent tiara, goofy, tangled up, pieced and broken, glued back together again, pink wearing breast cancer survivor, so not a princess in training! Johnny, has stood by my side not just through the initial diagnosis of this thing they call triple negative breast cancer, but a mastectomy, chemotherapy, a hysterectomy and all the other non sense cancer has brought our direction. At 32 years old, I was suddenly staring into the mirror, mirror on our wall wondering if I could still be Johnny’s fairest of them all.
So you’re asking yourself, what in tarnation is she going on about now, right? Yep, she’s lost it; need to recycle that bent tiara on top of her head for sure this time. Love at first sight really Christina? Come on, chemo must have destroyed more than you realize… love and the test of time…please! Christina, what makes you think your love story is “all that” girl? Well it’s not all that and bag of gum honestly, it’s actually a pretty average, run of the mill love story. I agree, no fireworks over head, no dove release or balloons flying up, up and away. So what makes our love story so note worthy, outside of sitting down for dinner with the Mad Hatter every night? Well it’s special to me; it’s unique to us, as each relationship should be because in spite of the loss of a breast, the endurance of chemo and now the uncertainty of remission Johnny still stands tall beside me, my knight in shining armor… even if it is bent in a few places here and there.
Our love story is a simple one, nothing too mushy or complicated but a story which has withstood the test of time, a real life fairytale filled with drama, struggle, romance, loss and love beyond measure. If I was given the opportunity today to say, “I do” one more time (yes even in a princess gown with a sparkly new tiara) knowing what we do now I would jump on board that band wagon, bells ringing and all falling down the stairs hand in hand, head over heels just to be able to lay next to my husband, my Johnny, for just one more night.
Today, 15 years after we first said, “I do”, I celebrate this deep hunk-a, hunk-a burning love I still have for my soul mate. No he didn’t turn out to be an ax murdered or a flash in the pan, no our love turned into something amazing and radically crazy. Right here, right now I wish my husband a wonderful anniversary and pray for many, many more to come!
~Christina (or should I say Mrs. Johnny O)