I can't start a week talking about my personal heroes without telling you about my husband Robert. Robert and I have known each other for 25 years now (wow!) and have been married for 11 years (double wow!). We met my second year of college, 1984-5, at UCLA and immediately became friends. In fact, being friends is the key to why we started dating, got married, are still together today. Being my friend and loving me---that's why Robert is my hero.
After my cancer experience in 1988, I convinced myself that men would never find me attractive and I would never have a boyfriend again. My evidence for this belief: 1) my boyfriend at that time dumped me a month after my cancer diagnosis and 2) I felt like some kind of weird science experiment---hairless from chemotherapy and wearing a wig, yellow and fatigued from Hepatitis C and in premature menopause.
But my friend Robert was still around and I enjoyed spending time with him. He even accompanied me on a trip to San Diego to visit a graduate social work program and I decided to have some fun and rented a red convertible Mustang for the trip. It was shortly after that trip that Robert did the unexpected: he confessed his love for me and told me he wanted to start dating. Taken aback, I said, "No, I just want to be friends!" His admission and my refusal lead to some awkward times between us that we resolved by parting ways for a while in late 1990.
By 1995, I'd proven my theory about men and dating wrong; I'd gone out on many dates and I'd even had a boyfriend or two. During the Summer of 1995, when I was coming up on my 30th birthday, I found myself in a funk and experiencing a full-blown early mid-life crisis. One day, I opened my address book and decided to write "thanks for all the memories" and "I'm moving on without you" notes to friends I had not seen or spoken to for several years. One of the recipients of these notes was Robert, who called me two days after I sent the note to him and said, "Just because I haven't talked to you in a while doesn't mean I don't want to still be your friend."
After that, we started hanging out together again. Having him back in my life, I realized how much I missed him and what a really great guy he was. I started having second thoughts about turning him down, so I exercised my female prerogative and informed him that I had changed my mind while on a day trip to Santa Barbara with him. I got lucky because he still felt the same way about me too, and the rest is history.
Truth be told, back in 1990 I wasn't ready for him to love me just yet. I also couldn't see that he was the perfect partner for me, simply because he truly loved me and all my health problems didn't matter. He proved me wrong in such a wonderful way and he is my hero for it!
We live a good life together and we are still each others best friend. We have the kind of love and marriage that is for better or worse. Sure we have a lot of fun together, but in the past 11 years we have also had more than our fair share of trials and tribulations, bumps in the road and unexpected twists and turns. No matter what, I can count on Robert to be there for me and he can count on me to be there for him.
Maybe that makes me Robert's hero, too!