Let’s rewind to 9 years ago when Craig and I started our relationship. It was a time in my life where hockey was a total different language to me. I thought Craig was going to faint when I said, “I never heard of Wayne Gretzky. I never been to a hockey game either.” His exact words, “Do you live under a rock?” But lets be real, growing up on the eastern side of Pennsylvania the sports that consumed our lives were football, wrestling, and baseball. I have to chuckle today, as we are in the playoffs, before he signed in Colorado, Dancing with Stars was way more important than the NHL playoffs. Wow, how things have changed! Last night, I felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve so excited for playoffs.
Ever since Craig stepped into my life, he brought that missing ingredient to my recipe. I can actually say his strengths compliment my weaknesses, as my strengths compliment his weaknesses.
Since our first date, I knew Craig had the patience of a Saint. I was late to our first date, and he acted like a pure gentlemen. We had a lovely dinner, great conversation, and he even opened my car door to go home. I remember leaving thinking this man is genuine and sweet.
We continued to date and get to know each other for a couple of months. I was so scare to jump into the fire of dating a professional athlete. Even though all the signs were there that he was “awesome”, I was still very apprehensive of getting my feelings hurt. Everyday Craig proved those insecurities wrong. The man doesn’t have a bone in his body to ever intentionally hurt me. In fact, he always one step ahead.
I remember when we first decided to officially commit into a relationship, he organized all my kitchen cabinets. I had the flu and thought I needed Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup, to find out I had 5 cans of it scattered all over my cabinets in my kitchen. Craig holds me together. He teaches me to be organized and plan things ahead of time. If anyone reading this knows me, I am laid back and fly by the seat of my pants.
Then our first big obstacle was when he signed with the Colorado Avalanche. He asked me to move to Colorado with him. My response, “I will only move if I have a full-time teaching job.” I wasn’t leaving my teaching job in Florida to asking him for five dollars a month for Walgreens. I had too much pride to rely on a man. I worked too hard for my teaching degree to just give up my passion for influencing the world. I began applying on-line to Colorado, and at the time skyped my first interview for a half-day position. I remember not having a care in the world, thinking it was half- day position and it was a practice interview. The school called me back within two hours offering me a half-day position which I turned down. Within thirty minutes they called me back and offered me a full-time position. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Some might think I was stubborn, but as an established adult, I couldn’t role the dice without security for myself. I am so glad I took the plunge that led to marriage and two beautiful boys.
During this cancer journey, my husband definitely has shown the definition of a best friend. We cried and laughed together. We experienced situations that we never thought would come our way. He became my cheerleader, like I am for him on the ice. He pushed me on days where I didn’t think I was going to make it. He was the first to hold my hair when chemo didn’t agree with me, and when I was so weak he would carry me to the car and rush me to the hospital or hydration. On Christmas Day, I was admitted into the hospital, missing our kiddos, and found a way to smile drinking milkshakes and hospital chicken fingers. During the night he would watch over me, and check on me. Never once did he ever complain that he was tired or needed a break. His strength to be by my side is truly remarkable. I always think I can I ever repay him? I am truly blessed by GOD to have this man in my life.
On top of caring for me, he cared for our boys. As I would sit back and just watch him, I would tear up. I was so happy to see him, doing my job at ease. To making breakfast, finding activity for them to do, to napping our little guy, to becoming Santa, the man held the fort down. It amazes me what a great dad he constantly displays day in and day out. I am also impressed with how receptive the boys have become with Craig, since Mommy kind of gave her role to Daddy. Of course he hears from Jake, ” Mommy does it this way.” I am truly thankful the boys bonded in a special way which puts me at peace. Each day of this journey, I am trying to take the positives out of this twister in our life. It definitely puts a spin on how I will view the world forever.
Just when you think nothing else could go wrong, my Yorkie, Bella, broke her jaw during the first round of treatment in New Jersey. Craig knows my two dogs are my world. He jokes with me, and calls them my “College Tuition Dogs”, but Yorkshire Terriors are a high maintenance breed, I guess just like me these days. Bella began yelping in pain. The screeching sound broke my heart. Without hesitation, Craig immediately googled a veterinarian, and was referred to an oral surgeon in Philadelphia. He was basically told, Bella needed care as soon as possible or should could go to doggie heaven. Knowing how much Bella meant to me, this man drove two hours at 11:00 at night after taking care of me all day to University of Penn. She received surgery and thank God she still with me today.
To watch my husband, add multiple things to his plate and handle them with grace completely amazes me. As a goalie’s wife, during a season, I usually try to take things off his plate. During naps, I either nap our kids or take them somewhere not to disturb him. Pre-Game meals are ordered for him or I use my Italian skills. Household responsibilities I usually handle. Anything I can take away from him to make his job easier, I always did in a heartbeat. This season has been so different, the man wore many hats, piling on role after role, and in my book deserves an A+.
As I watch Craig play hockey, he truly amazes me to be able to be so focused and carry this weight on his shoulders. It can’t be easy to push aside everything he has experienced on the outside of hockey. I truly admire his strength, determination, and perseverance. It pushes me through my everyday battles. He honestly helps me with the mental battles I encounter daily. Sometimes I believe he uses his goalie voodoo on me. But, he is right! The mind is a very powerful tool. I can’t thank him enough for keeping my mind in my game. He sure makes a great coach. I try to reassure him daily, “I am ok too!” The last thing I want is his mind on me and not his game. Everything this man does for me and our children is genuinely from his heart. For me to see him, giving his all empowers me. I am so proud to call him my husband! I Love You!