Monday, July 7, 2014

For Better, For Worse

I love my wife. 
Like, a whole lot. 
I would say it’s a fairy-tale kind of love, but I don’t remember any Disney princes holding hands and praying with their respective princesses while chemo made their hair fall out.  So my love for my wife has gotten a lot more…real…recently. 
In pre-marital counseling we learned the five roles of a spouse: best friend, lover, business partner, co-parent, and soulmate.  Ashleigh is all of those to me, and (in true Ashleigh fashion) she excels in each area.  I can’t imagine my life without her.
So today, our Seventh Anniversary, I’d like to shout from a mountaintop how amazing my wife is.  But I don’t have a mountaintop, I have this blog.  What’s the fun of having a marginally well-read cancer blog if you can’t use it to write an open love letter on your anniversary? 
I want to say how proud I am of Ashleigh for the way she has faced her diagnosis head-on.  For how hopeful she has been, relying on Jesus for strength, and for her faith that He has a plan for her and our family through this.  For how selfless she is - her greatest concern through this is not her own health, but how she wants to continue to be a great wife and mother.  Those of you who know Ashleigh know what an amazing woman she is, and for those who don’t I’m afraid no amount of my words here could do her justice.
We always intended our Seventh Anniversary to be special – we got married on 7/7/07, we were both born in a hospital located on 7777 Forest Lane, and our first chemo treatment last week was in room 7.  We don’t ascribe any mystical significance to the number, but it’s been a running gag in our marriage, an inside joke God has used to encourage us along the way.  We’ve decided that our anniversaries will be in base-7, so this is a milestone for us. 
Sure, we never imagined that our Seventh anniversary would be spent at an appointment at an out-of-town cancer center.  In fact, we pictured something much warmer, on a beach, perhaps including some kind of tropical beverage.   Still, I’d rather face cancer in a sterile doctor’s office with Ashleigh than be on a beach with anyone else on earth.
I wish I could take credit for the love I have for my wife, but the truth is I had it modeled to me from an early age.
I cried like a little girl when I saw The Notebook, and for a long time I didn’t forgive Ashleigh for making me watch it.  Now, before you revoke my man-card (it’s long gone anyway, didn’t you know I sing a cappella?), you should know that my grandmother, Nell Range, suffered from and eventually died from Alzheimer’s.  I won’t give Nicholas Sparks the satisfaction of me re-hashing the trite, emotionally manipulative plot of The Notebook here, but let’s just say there are a lot of similarities.  Towards the end, my grandmother didn’t always know who my granddad was, and would often shout hurtful things at him.  Still, he loved her in a selfless way that impacted me and that marked all of his grandchildren.   It’s one of the reasons my son Noah is named for his great-granddad, Noah Haskell Range.
One of the most poignant memories I have of him, even now that over 10 years have passed, is an altercation when we were all over at their house, and my grandmother in a confused state yelled some very hurtful (and untrue) things at my granddad, in earshot of the whole family.  I was hiding out in another room trying to avoid the awkwardness and pain of the situation.  My grandfather passed by me a little later and stopped, looking at me squarely from behind tearful eyes.  His words to me are seared in my memory.  He said “The marriage vows say for better and for worse.  This is worse.”  He said it almost cavalierly with half a shrug, with no bitterness, with the same inflection one might use to remark upon the weather.  The message was clear: no mere circumstances have the power to affect our decision to love each other.  You don't get a pass when things get hard; in fact, that's when you buckle down and work for it.
My grandmother eventually mellowed out in her dementia, and my granddad became “my sweetie” or “the man who brings me chocolates” (he would sneak them to her in her nursing home).  They lived out their love story to the end, so much more real and raw and beautiful than anything Disney or Nicholas Sparks can touch.  Theirs is a poignant story, but it’s the same quality of love and measure of devotion that I saw in my other grandparents (John and Nancy LaGrone), that I’ve seen for almost 40 years in my own parents, and that I see in my in-laws.
I know the old-school marriage vows are a bit out of vogue these days; the ones that say “For better, for worse; in sickness, in health; as long as we both shall live”, but with my granddad’s words in my mind you better believe I asked our pastor to include those statements in our marriage ceremony seven years ago.  And I intended to stand by them, until one of us stops breathing. 

Happy Anniversary Ashleigh, love of my life.  To the next 120 years (that gets us to 70, in base 7).  :-)


  1. Brad and Ashleigh,

    Happy Anniversary! Stay strong in your incredible love. Our prayers are always with you.

    -- ted

  2. Happy anniversary week, Ashleigh and Brad! Greg and I really enjoyed your wedding 7 years ago! We're praying for you and your family. I'm keeping up with your blog to know how to pray specifically. Thanks for keeping up posted, and for sharing your faith and love for one another with all of us watching and praying!
    Debbie Connors

  3. Your love story has been a beautiful one to watch unfold. I am blessed to have you both in my life and can not wait to observe the rest of this love story!

  4. Hey now - a cappella is among the manliest things a man can do ;) Right up there next to loving your wife in just the best way possible, which you have done and continue to do.

    Your story brings me inspiration through the tears. You are in my thoughts and prayers every day.

  5. Love the story about your grandparents Brad. My parents (Alli's grandparents) had a similar story only it was my Dad who had Alzheimer's. The love and devotion my Mom had for Dad was boundless. Amazing love. You and Ashleigh have that love and it will sustain you❤️

  6. Jimmy V used to say that to have a fulfilled life, you should do 3 things every day: laugh, spend some time in quiet reflection, and have your emotions moved to tears. Thank you for taking care of all three of those for me today. Rooting and praying for you two with all my heart.

    With love,
    Curtis and Rebecca


  7. شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام التفاؤل شركة نقل اثاث بالخبر كما انها افضل شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل نقل عفش واثاث بالجبيل والخبر والقطيف والدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل
    شركة نقل اثاث بالقطيف

  8. اهم شركات كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذكل شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة وتنظيف بجدة ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر وكشف تسربات المياه بالجبيل والقطيف والخبر والدمام
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام

  9. اهم شركات نقل العفش والاثاث بالدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
    شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
    شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
    شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
    شركة نقل عفش بجدة
    شركة نقل عفش بمكة
    شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة نقل عفش بينبع
    شركة نقل عفش بالخرج
    شركة نقل عفش بالقصيم
    شركة نقل عفش بخميس مشيط
    شركة نقل عفش بتبوك
    شركة نقل عفش بابها
    شركة نقل عفش ببريدة
    شركة نقل عفش بنجران
    شركة نقل عفش بحائل
    شركة نقل عفش بالظهران
    شركة نقل عفش واثاث
    شركة نقل عفش

  10. مع شركة تنظيف فلل بالدمام يمكنك التمتع بأفضل و أسرع خدمة تنظيف على الاطلاق و بأقل التكاليف الممكنة أيضا فالتعامل معنا لا مثيل له في أي مكان آخر