A Beloved by Any Other Name

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My husband Jeffrey is perfect. I’m serious; just ask his Momma and she will tell you that Jeff is perfect. In fact, she will tell you that all three of her boys are perfect and that her daughter-in-law’s are not! I agree with her because I too think that Jeff is perfect. Jeff is my perfect match and fits me in ways that I didn’t even know I needed before we were married. However, we have one really big difference: I love reading and Jeff does not. It’s important to know this because when I finished writing John the Beloved, Jeff agreed to read the book for me to let me know what he thought about it as I value his opinion more than any other and he also agreed to look through the book for any mistakes. Since, Jeff doesn’t like to read, it was a really big deal for him to agree to do this for me and I appreciate it so much. The first time he read the book, he told me that he was getting drawn into the story and he wanted to just read it the first time through and then he would read it again for editing purposes. That was a huge compliment! Early one morning, I woke up because the bed was shaking. I opened my eyes and realized that the bed was shaking because Jeff was laughing so hard that he was causing the whole bed to shake!

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Your book,” he replied.

This made me fully wake up.

“There’s nothing in my book that funny,” I said.

That’s when he told me what had caused him to laugh out loud. The main characters of John the Beloved are John and Elise. Up until Chapter 11, I referred to John as John. However, in Chapter 11 something momentous occurs (that’s all I can say as I don’t want to spoil the book for any of my readers). During this chapter, Jeff said that John’s name had suddenly been replaced with the name Jeff! All through that chapter, I referred to John as Jeff. The next chapter, the name John had returned! I had no idea that I had done such a thing! I told Jeff I suppose this happened because when it comes to love and affairs of the heart, my mind automatically thinks of Jeff. In a few days, we will celebrate 27 years of marriage and I can honestly say that I am still head over heels in love with Jeff. Sunday while sitting in church, I glanced over at my husband who was sitting next to me and my heart skipped a beat. Our marriage hasn’t been perfect. We have faced huge difficulties but all of the trials we have been through have ultimately brought us closer together.

Jeff was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease one day after he turned 25. In most cases, Crohn’s affects the large intestines. When necessary, patients can be treated with a colectomy and ostomy placement. However, Jeff’s Crohn’s disease is in his small intestines. While you don’t need your large intestines to survive, you cannot live without your small intestines as this is where nutrients are absorbed. Jeff has been through 10 surgeries and more hospitalizations than I can possibly remember. At one point, he was averaging two surgeries a year and spent more days in hospital than he spent at home. Jeff has been very close to death 4 times and those events were traumatic for me and our children; and those events made us love and appreciate him all the more. Jeff and I first began courting when he was 26; he had been diagnosed with Crohn’s for one year and was painfully thin. Not long after our engagement had been announced, my Daddy was in the grocery store when a lady we know came up to him. She asked Daddy multiple questions about me and Jeff. At first her questions were innocuous but then her questions changed. She asked Daddy about Jeff’s illness: how bad was his illness? Did he have an ostomy and if not would he have one placed soon? Was he expected to die? Then she asked Daddy the question:

“Why is she marrying a man who is sick?

Daddy’s answer was short, simple and to the point

“Because she loves him.”

In today’s world, if it is broken we throw it away. When relationships become difficult, we end them and move on to someone new. As a nurse, I have taken care of patients whose significant other left them when their partner became ill. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 says it perfectly:

 Let me not to the marriage of true minds 
Admit impediments. Love is not love.
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

Jeff knows the best in me and the worst in me (which far outweighs the good) and yet his love has never wavered. The years have passed I have become fat and older, yet he still thinks I am the most beautiful and desirable woman in the world. Jeff makes me feel loved, protected, safe and happy. When I feel overwhelmed, he pulls me into his arms and as I breathe in his wonderful scent, I suddenly feel peace and become confident that no matter what happens, it will be okay because Jeff is with me.

Going back to Shakespere, in the play Romeo and Juliet in response to Romeo stating his family name Julet says, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By Any Other Name would smell as sweet.” While I agree with the seintment, I’m glad that Jeff caught my subconscious name changing in John the Beloved! It would have confused my readers greatly! Because of Jeff Wyatt, I know what true love is and thus how to write about it. Jeff has taught me that true love perseveres no matter the obstacle and this is because true love comes from the source of all love, God.

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