Diane and Paul Sciacchitano.

Diane and Paul Sciacchitano. Credit: Diane Sciacchitano

‘For better, for worse”: Such simple words that are said when a union is being formed. Do we comprehend the true meaning of those vows at the time when all we can think of are the festivities of the day and spending the rest of our lives with this one incredible person standing beside us? I wanted to tell my story to demonstrate how life can be so fragile and unpredictable.

We are just your average family. A dad, mom and three kids, no pets unless you count the teddy bear hamsters that took turns living with us for most of our kids’ growing years. My husband had retired from law enforcement after 25 years of service. Years of shift work and trying to make the best out of missed functions. Checking squad charts before making any kind of plans or appointments was normal in our home.

My husband retired in his mid-40s. After a few weeks of hanging around the house, he took a five-day-a-week job with normal hours. We were thrilled. We called it Part Two, a new start. We had arrived at another milestone. Since we were always health-conscious, both with ourselves and our children, yearly checkups were a must. A few days after said checkup we got the call to come in and speak with the doctor.

That was the beginning of the second half of for better, for worse. My husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. The tumor was the size of a mushroom and it had to be removed. After the shock and the crying subsided, we both got down to business. We knew we had to rid this intruder from our lives.

After the surgery was performed, he faced months of chemotherapy, during which we agreed Part Two and all our lofty plans would have to be put on hold. My husband is an unassuming man, never one to complain. At the end of his work day he would stop to receive his treatment. When he got home, dinner wasn’t in the cards. He just didn’t have an appetite, nor energy. One thing he did have was thoughts of me and how my day had gone. He never wavered. He would light two candles and put them on the table and sit opposite me and keep me company. He always wanted to make our lives seem normal. This display of love and concern just cemented our commitment to each other even more.

Well, we survived the following six months and then some. A few more health scares popped up along the way. Finally, we felt our lives were on the right path. Our prayers and the prayers of family and friends were so comforting. I remember stating that our vows “for better for worse, in sickness and in health” wasn’t supposed to happen until we were much older. I was emphatic that he had used his quota up on the “worse” and “sickness” part and to knock it off.

Twelve years of good health and normalcy passed and once again reality came knocking. Another bout of cancer, this time non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Back to chemo and radiation and prayers. And just as before, we tackled this new “speed bump.” Most recently we were given the “good news” that a few body joints needed a tweaking — in medical terms, “replaced.” First a new shoulder, now a new knee.

We are married almost 60 years now and looking forward to new horizons and the many gifts that this life can bring. We are grateful for every hug, every smile and every chance to say, “I love you.”

Diane Sciacchitano

North Massapequa

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