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In 1995 when Alex and I started talking about getting married, we were both aware that our age difference would eventually affect our quality of life. Wanting me to consider the future carefully, he warned, “We might only have ten good years.”

We were both aware from the very beginning that the clock was ticking, so we agreed that we would never look back and say, “We wish we would have done (fill in the blank) while we could.”

We will celebrate our 18th anniversary in September. We have both done meaningful work. We have traveled all over the world, and we have had marvelous adventures. We kept our promise to live our lives fully, and reflecting back, I have to say we haven’t wasted a moment.

However, this week I have had to look at our situation realistically and come to terms with the fact his back pain is taking over, and it is having a dramatic impact on both of us. The steroid injections that used to relieve up to 75% of his pain for three to four months, are no longer effective. His pain level for the last several weeks has been so intense that he’s had difficulty focusing on anything else. It is now it is having a severe impact on his mobility.

We’ve been in Sedona, Arizona this week for our Sanchez Family Reunion. In the past, it wouldn’t have been unusual for us to hike five miles before breakfast. This morning, he may or may not feel up to walking the three blocks to our favorite breakfast restaurant.

When we get home we will look into other alternatives for pain management. I will talk to our travel agent about canceling the trip to Portugal we had planned to take in August to celebrate Alex’s birthday. We will adapt and adjust, and we will accept that we may not be able to continue to do the things that have brought us so much pleasure in the past.

Eighteen years ago I promised to be Alex’s faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. Those were the terms of our marriage vows. I took them seriously then, and I will honor them going forward. Regardless of what happens in the future, I will never regret choosing to spend the rest of my life loving him.