Rick Phillips, a CJ blogger battling both rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, shares with us a love note written to his wife, Sheryl. 

Dear Sheryl,

When I saw you for the first time sitting in the 4th row of that US government class 43 years ago, you were the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Today when I see you, I am still captivated. One would think that after 39 years of marriage I would know you, and yet you remain a wonderful mystery to me. As we grow older I realize your strength is unbending, yet when we decided to marry I thought I was strong and you would rely on me. I could not have been more wrong.

Through the years my love for you has grown more than I could have imagined. These past years you have held to me when I thought I lost everything, you have given me hope when I had none and you have loved me when I was unlovable.

As I have struggled with diabetes you have stuck with me. You have seen my many highs, and you help me treat my many lows. You have seen me when I was scared, angry and depressed about living with diabetes, and yet you have loved me each day.

Then 16 years ago we found a new, more difficult challenge. One I never dreamed I might face. When the doctor said Rheumatoid Arthritis, you held my hand and offered your shoulder as I cried an endless stream of tears. You have seen me almost unable to walk, unable to love myself, and then unable to work. You helped me find new treatments and wept with me when medicines have failed.

There is no possible way I could have made it these last 17 years with RA or 43 years with diabetes without you in my life. You are my rock, my advisor, my caregiver, and my wife. But most of all, you are the love of my life. I still see you as that beautiful woman I met in 1974.

You intrigue me more each day, and I love you more than you can imagine. I thank you every day for adopting my causes, I love you for sacrificing roses so we can give rose to save a child, I love you sitting in the rain as I support Tour De Cure and I love you for supporting Arthritis research so our grandchildren might someday live in a better world.

Sheryl, I love you more than you can imagine. More than the day we first pledged our love, more than the day we said I do, and more than I did yesterday, or the thousands of days before.

Happy Valentine’s Day Sheryl, you are the reason I am.