The other day I was in West Marine, picking up some supplies for s/v Pretty Gee. There was a bucket of assorted candies at the register, so I dug through it to find the miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The cashier commented that those seemed to the be most popular candy they had in the buckets.
I said I liked them for sentimental reasons rather than because of anything else—you see, while I actually like the full-size peanut butter cups better because I think the mix of chocolate to peanut butter is better in them, the miniature ones will always have a special place in my heart. You see, miniature peanut butter cups allowed me to keep a very important promise I made to Gee.
She asked me what I meant by that, so I told her why they’re special to me, and told her the following story
About a month after Gee’s surgery, I found Gee crying, and I asked her what was wrong. We had been dealing with wedding stuff the previous day, and Gee had been thinking about our upcoming wedding. She said she was really scared that she wouldn’t look good on her wedding day—her main worry being that her wedding gown wouldn’t fit properly. She was down to 88 pounds because of the surgery and the trouble she was having eating after having a Whipple operation. She was also going through her first round of chemotherapy, which wasn’t really helping her gain back the weight she had lost.
I asked her, “What did you weigh when you did your last gown fitting?”
She answered, “104 pounds. Why?”
I replied, “Don’t worry, I promise that you will be within three pounds of that on the morning of our wedding.”
She asked me how I could possibly know or promise that. I said it was because I loved her, I’d keep that promise.
The next five months were really hard for Gee. Between the chemotherapy and her body trying to learn how to use its newly re-configured digestive tract, eating was not the pleasure that it had previously been for her. I was cooking a lot of pasta for her—she loved the Buitoni ravioli and tortellini dishes I’d make. She also drank a lot of Ensure or Boost to supplement the small meals she was eating. In the evenings, she liked to have a dish of ice cream, with miniature peanut butter cups chopped up and mixed in.
Somehow, between her medications, thank God for Zofran, my cooking for her and the dishes of ice cream, we managed to get Gee’s weight back up to a healthy range. There were days when she really didn’t feel up to eating, but as her “food gestapo”, I was in charge of making sure she ate well. The dishes of ice cream were something she usually looked forward too and I didn’t have to persuade her to eat most days.
Fast forward to November 4, 2000, 7:00 or so in the morning, I had been banished from our house the night before so as not to see the bride before our wedding ceremony and was staying in a nearby hotel with two of the groomsmen. I called her up and asked her to go to the bathroom and step on the scale and tell me what it said. She did, and said, “103 pounds—how did you know you could do that?” I told her it was because I loved her so much and I’d see her at the church.
Many of our wedding guests asked me when Gee was going to be starting chemo, not realizing that the beautiful bride had already been through her first round. She was absolutely radiant that day, and I still get compliments on our wedding—even a decade later. The gown—almost forty pounds of matte satin silk, lace, and beadwork—fit perfectly. I had kept the promise I had made Gee months earlier.
One person I really have to thank for all her help, especially in August, September, October of 2000, is Michelle, Gee’s little sister. She was a Godsend. In some ways, it was a good thing that her landlord jacked up her rent 23% and gave me a reason to ask her to move in with us that summer, but that’s a story for another day.