What Does "For Worse" Look Like?
Their love survived...their parents' illnesses continued...
Greg may not have understood Diane's need then, but he got a crash course
two years later, when his own father, who has emphysema, was rushed to the
hospital; he was not expected to live. Now Diane learned what it was like to be
stonewalled. "It was eerie to see this unresponsive, unemotional side of
Greg," she admits. And occasionally her desire to know what was going on in
his head got the best of her. "She'd hammer away at me and I'd be begging
her to stop asking questions," Greg says. But over time, they both learned
that "being there" sometimes required giving each other space.
"We'd go for hours without talking to each other, which we'd never done
before," Diane says. It felt strange at first, but eventually, when one of
them would least expect it, the other would open up.
"The experience revealed a facet of our relationship that we never knew
existed before," Diane says. "You don't know how strong you are
together until you've journeyed through the worst, and come back." Their
parents are now in stable condition, and the couple no longer takes anything
for granted, especially each other. "Everyone knows their parents are going
to die someday," says Greg. "But when you actually face the abyss, you
truly realize they won't be in your corner forever. And that's when you learn
to really see your spouse as your family. It's a very comforting
Their love survived...the death of their child
Eight years ago, identical twins Jade and Jillian Pasley had barely
celebrated their first birthdays when their parents, Jessica and Irvin, got
devastating news: Jade had acute myelogenous leukemia, a cancer with only a 50
percent survival rate. Doctors warned that Jillian would develop the disease as
well. "When I heard this, I dropped to the floor and cried," recalls
Jessica, 40. "How much bad news can a mother take?"
Jade passed away on February 4, 2000. For months afterward, her parents
wandered around in a fog, visited Jade's grave daily, and tried to move on. By
springtime, though, as their son's baseball league started up, Irvin was
cheering from the stands. Jessica, however, still felt like she was going
through the motions, and resented Irvin's ability to enjoy life a little.
"One morning I was so upset I was pounding on the walls," Jessica
recalls. "Irvin asked, 'What's wrong with you?' in a tone that suggested he
was mad at me. And I was mad at him for being so low-key. He was stoic."
Irvin had had his rough moments, too—he once broke down during a routine
checkup when his doctor simply asked, "How are you doing?"—but he felt
the best way to honor Jade was to get things back to normal. "I missed my
wife, and wanted to make up for lost time," says Irvin, 39. "It was
frustrating to have a good day, then get the life sucked out of me as soon as I
walked in the door."