posted in: Encouragement | 20

I was twenty-two when I got married. Young. Dumb. Happy. And quick on my feet.

That was fourteen years ago today.

I married the boy I met at Bible camp because he was funny and kind and absurdly good looking. We stood in a barely air-conditioned church in front of gobs of Mennonites and friends and family, some long since gone. And we promised that we would be there for better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in heath.

I loved your Justin Bieber hair.


We aced “for richer, for poorer.” When we had nothing except what we could fit in a small family van, we could get into a lot of fun trouble on a $5 date. We loved each other so much that we were willing to live off of spaghetti in cities we didn’t grow up in and states we didn’t call home. We deferred other dreams for this one–this job, this place–and when arrived, this happened.

Today I’ll spend our anniversary mostly in the hospital, getting treatment, and putting you to the test, honey. I’ll ask you, again, to forgo the easy plans that people make. The second baby that we both wanted. And the guarantee that we’ll still have that same fight when we’re 80. You know I’ll win. I’m not sure why you keep arguing. But I like that you do.

So here we are, in sickness and in health. And you are exactly who you said you would be. You are constant and loving, funny and sweet. And you say stupid things like: “I still feel like I’m getting a good deal,” when you look at me, lying there, hooked up to drip bags and IVs.

The results are back and the doctor says that my tumors are stable. Praise God. Thankyouthankyouthankyou. They’re big but the medications are holding them at bay for now. There are no new tumors developing. It looks like the drugs are working, giving me forevercancer which is fine if it gets me a foreverlife. And I watched how your shoulders dropped and you sat back, exhaling deeply. Then you reached for my hand. It’s my cancer, my precarious life, but I know this is happening to both of us. And let me tell you the truth I know, truer than how terrible Canada is at the Summer Olympics. Truer than how loudly I eat tortilla chips. Truer than the florescent lights bearing down on us here, in another waiting room, holding another beeper, reviewing the scan results.

The truth is this: you are exactly who you said you would be. You are exactly who I hoped you would be.

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Happy Anniversary, honey.

I will love you all the days of my life.

20 Responses

  1. Mara Willard

    Love and beauty and strength, Kate. That’s you. Precarious life, but real. Bravo.

  2. Quinn Barreth

    Happy anniversary you two and congratulations on the diagnosis.

  3. Mark Penner

    I ate 2 teen burgers for dinner on Sunday night, so there is an argument to be made for you living longer than me.

    Also, Canada is doing well at the Olympics (dominating USA in medals per 100k population), throwing into question all those nice things you said about Toban at the end there.

  4. Michael Bell

    What a beautiful post. Tears in my eyes.

  5. beautiful. so much of it rings true to me, having gone through other kinds of sickness, only five years in marriage. happy anniversary!

  6. Brenda Frobisher

    So beautifully written …. an ex Grad Studies employee, worked with your mom … Happy Anniversary!!

  7. I love you from afar, Kate. But my love is real. I met your parents on Semester at Sea, that big boat that took them to 9 countries in the summer of 2010. I heard wonderful tales of you and your family. I sang in your mom’s choir. And your mom and I danced together, did yoga together and wept when we parted. And we never stopped loving each other.
    With that love, I took on a surrogate “niece named Kate”. I have followed closely in your stuggles and your triumphs. I do like the triumphs better, but I am in this for the long haul. Like your husband (lucky man that he is), I am sticking around. Through IV drips and stories to come about what the first day of kindergarten will be like.
    You don’t know me….but I love you.

  8. So grateful your Mom shared this. You are an amazing woman and writer. Hallelujah that you are stable. I will just keep storming the heavens on your behalf. Ohhh! Happy anniversary!

  9. I am sending this to you while tears are streaming down my face.
    I am so proud of you and Toban. You both have learned to fight the good fight with all your might.
    May God be your constant.
    This is a Happy anniversary!

  10. Leslie Earnst

    Hi Kate! I’m Leslie Earnst–a Texas friend of your in-laws Els and Ken Penner. Congratulations on your 14 beautiful years together. I love that you have a wonderful husband–handsome, constant, loving, funny, precious Penner. I have been praying for you for a long time and worrying about you and your family. I have such a good husband (W.C.)–loving, funny, loyal, dependable, and precious–that I will have been married to for 48 years this Christmas 2016. I have metastatic breast cancer and have only been on this path since July 1–my 68th birthday. I have my second surgery on Monday August 22nd and begin chemo soon after that. Prayers to you and for you, dear one! I know you are so loved.

  11. Jennifer Findlay

    Please write a bestselling love story!!!! Your words are so incredibly beautiful and I could read them forever.

  12. This is so beautiful, Kate! So grateful you are using this time when you could be, probably should be, just resting, to write! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  13. […] “Today I’ll spend our anniversary mostly in the hospital, getting treatment, and putting you… [14th Anniversary by Kate Bowler] […]

  14. Deanna Thompson

    I’m exhaling, too, with news of stable tumors. Praise God the medicine is working. Praise God for another anniversary. May it be forevercancer, and may you continue to courageously, fiercely, love this life and those who share it with you. Great rejoicing and much love from Minnesota

  15. Rosemary Corbett

    Happy anniversary and Godspeed to you and your family, Kate.

  16. Sheila Rowand

    with much love and admiration.
    Thinking of you so often,

  17. Karen Bowler

    Kate, in all these good wishes expressed here, and all those the come to Dad and I, it feels like the community of Love is holding hands and encircling you and Toban! There’s so much prayer, so many loud cheers, exclamations of wonder, and sighs of relief, –wave upon wave of loving thoughts from friends, co-workers, and strangers. And it just keeps coming. My cousin Johnny called me today, raucously happy for you and wants to send you a hug; My cousins Jackie and Cathy send assurances that prayer goes on unceasingly. Emails arrive constantly. It’s a cottage industry! I forgot to mention –Adeline Muller says to tell you she prays for you every day as do so many at Church of The Way. And Bonny, Kirsten, Ruth, David, and the whole of St. Margaret’s Anglican is on its knees for you. So I’m adding this tonight: May all this love settle like a hand upon your head, and coax your entire being into heaviness, relaxation, and delicious sleep. Love you darling.

    • Hi Karen. Thank you for letting us know and giving us the opportunity to ask God for healing and assistance for the family. Auntie Yvonne has passed along your emails.

      Much love, Naomi

  18. Bobbie Palagi Smith

    Funny and sad, sweet and true. A promise and a prayer written by an expressive young woman about her illness and her love.

    I cried.

  19. Incredible! I can’t wait to read what you write for the 50th anniversary. May God bless and guide you both always.

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