Written with love, by Candice Papierowicz (Soon to be Vega)
Dave and I met our freshman year of College in an improvisation acting class just shy of ten years ago in August of 2004. Our chemistry was instant but being so young and not very interested in anything too serious (plus I was in a relationship) we quickly became close friends. We would talk to each other about anything and everything including dating advice.
Fast forward to January of 2006...
We started dating one another exclusively (Yayyyy)! About 8 - 9 months after we had been dating Dave started feeling weak and tired. He would complain about numbness in his left leg and foot. I would urge him to see a Doctor in case it was something serious, little did I know just how serious it was.
Toward mid September of 2006 Dave told me that he had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was just 13 years young. He felt it necessary to tell me as he knew we were serious together even at just 20 years old, and also because he felt his symptoms were related to his ailment.
It turns out Dave was right.
He started to relapse around the holiday season shortly after telling me, placing him in the hospital for what felt like an eternity. He was undergoing chemotherapy treatment to shrink the lesions on his brain and spine. He was also undergoing a very intense steroid treatment to keep him strong throughout the chemo. Throughout this process I could only see him for about two hours a night and we were not allowed to kiss. We could barely touch one another as he was on a rigorous chemo and steroid plan which depleted his immune system. After what seemed like forever he was finally released from the hospital and was feeling much better.
It wasn't over.
About a month and a half later he suffered a grand mall seizure, indicating the lesion on his brain was not only back, but also it had grown. Dave was admitted back into the hospital with the same treatment plan, only stronger. At this point we had been together for barely a year.
My closest friends and family were heart broken over what we were going through and hated seeing us both in so much trouble and pain, especially so young. I was even told by my greatest supporters that if I were to walk away they would not think any less of me. I commend my family and friends for saying that to me to let me know that they had my back no matter what in case I felt pressure to stay just because he was sick. I appreciated it. But I did not feel pressure because he was sick. What our friends and family did not understand was that we were in love and we both knew that what we had was much stronger than his disease and it would not overshadow us or our strength. At the age of 20 we saw one another through that rough patch because we knew we had something far greater. And although at the time our friends and families did not want us going through such pain and struggle so young, I can say without hesitation that he was and still is completely worth it.
He is my heart and my soul. He makes me a better person than I ever imagined I could be. He even inspired me to run in my first half marathon in his honor and raise $1,655 towards MS research in a matter of months.
Fast-forward again about six years later and we are in the year 2013. Now at this point Dave and I had been through the regular highs and lows that most couples experience, but we remained strong and infatuated with one another. We remained and still do remain in the honeymoon phase which we get a lot of grief for but our love does not fade. Our friendship grows stronger with each life experience. Although, I did harass him quite a bit about being together for so long with no ring. My side comments fell on deaf ears until I decided I would rather be with him like this than not with him just because he wouldn't propose. I couldn't imagine my life without him so if that meant no ring and no wedding, so be it.
Little did I know my change of heart made his game of teasing me for not having proposed yet would not longer affect me. (Plus little did I know he actually already had a ring in our closet for me)! Finally on July 3rd 2013 (Three days before my family reunion) he proposed right after I got home from work. And the day before our nation celebrated it's independence, I gladly gave mine away.
Every year my Grandparents throw a themed anniversary/family reunion/4th of July party at their house. The theme is always heavily represented at these parties from everyone's outfits, to the invitations, the decor, entertainment, and food. That year the theme was family T-shirts. The family with the most clever, funniest, or funnest themed shirts would win. I made a comment that we had to dress up with all of my sisters and my mother and my sisters boyfriend because he couldn't "shit or get off the pot with proposing" so he and I couldn't be our own team. (This was clearly before my revelation) Move ahead about a month and half later to July 3rd 2013, three days before the big party. I came home from work and A LOT of holiday weekend traffic and Dave is sitting on the couch waiting for me. I notice a beautiful arrangement of flowers on the table and immediately start smothering him in kisses and thanking him for already making my day 100x's better. He pointed under the flowers to a package and said, "That's for you too". I immediately became giddy over the thought of not only receiving flowers but also getting a "Just because it's Wednesday" gift. I open the package and inside is a white t-shirt, I unfold the shirt and read the print "The Future Mrs. Vega" I gasp with tears already completely welled up in my eyes and turn around to find Dave directly behind me on one knee ring box in hand. He began with "Now we can be our own team" and opened the box to reveal a diamond engagement ring! AHHHHHHH!!! He gave (what I am sure was an INCREDIBLE proposal speech but I did not hear most of it as my head was swimming) and ended with "Will You Marry Me". I finally burst tears streaming down my face and start nodding my head like a bobble head in an off roading Jeep and manage to say "Of Course!" His hands were shaking so much that I couldn't even see the ring and I had to take it from him and place it on my hand for him.
My Advice to You
We have had our hardships and although I know there are more to come, I could not possibly begin to imagine facing them with anyone but him. He makes life exciting and filled with so much joy. No matter where we are as long as he is with me and I am with him, it is the best day of my life. I cannot wait to begin our happily ever after this October 2014! (EIGHT YEARS we've been together!)
So with this story if I could offer up some advise. Don't let people belittle your relationship. Young love is still love and it is strong! And when you are in a long-term relationship don't get discouraged if you want to get married. Ask yourself, "What do I really want?" And if you decide he or she is more important to you than marriage then that's between you two. But if marriage means that much to you, then you need to let he or she know. Just don't rush them. Because even if what you have is real, if you rush someone when they aren't ready for that commitment, they will always feel like you made them do it which will taint it.
And once you are engaged, ENJOY IT! Being engaged and planning a wedding has its stressors but it is certainly not stressful. Everyone else makes it stressful on you, but the experience itself isn't, as long as you stay true to you and what you want.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my favorite love story!
-Candice Papierowicz (Soon to be Vega)