I swore I would no longer write about this deep sadness, this bone aching hurt, this vacant absence that is like an elephant in my life…but, never say never, right???
I have questions, many questions…Every spring, will I forever replay the beginning of the end of the life of the man who made my life so incredible? Every May, will that memory of Steve’s terrible fall in our garage replay in slow motion in my mind? Every June, will I find myself remembering so vividly Steve needing help to bathe, to dress, to walk? Every July, will I be reminded of Steve’s horrendous seizures that left him unable to walk, to talk, to move, and that inevitably lead to his death?
More questions fill my mind. Will I always doubt that I could have done more? Will I continually question that I should have been more aware? That I could have been better? The questions grow, they loom, they paralyze me.
Since May, I have been acutely aware of this wave building within me. It was this time two years ago that, although we, or maybe it was just I, that didn’t comprehend the end of Steve’s life was so near. Steve’s fall in the garage that Sunday morning in May marked the beginning of the end. I suppose his brain tumor was growing so aggressively, so quickly, so horrendously that it was unfathomable.
I vividly remember walking down the hall of our home that Sunday morning when I heard Steve’s frantic call for help. I had begged Steve not to venture out into the yard that morning. I knew that he was too weak, that his faculties were failing, but he admonished me. He told me to stop treating him as though he were incapable, that he was still able to accomplish things. I remember being feeling ashamed, feeling mad, thinking, okay…go ahead, be hard-headed…I give up. I went do dress for church and Steve went to the back yard. My patience was growing thin. I imagine his patience was even thinner. Just minutes later, walking down the hall, dressed for church, I heard my name, being frantically called…over and over.
Running to the garage, I found Steve on the ground in a puddle of blood, unable to get up. Will I never forget the sight of Steve? Will I always remember the fear in his eyes? The picture of my precious husband lying helpless and battered.
In the weeks that followed, Steve looked like he had taken on both Mayweather and Pacquiao. In reality, Steve had taken on the mightiest contender, cancer at it’s finest. Steve was a prize fighter, and he fought his battle fiercely. The question I now ask myself, over and over is, was I the right person to be in his corner? Did I nurse his wounds as I should have? Did I encourage him for the rounds that were yet to come? I think Steve deserved much better than what I gave him those last few months. Now, 23 months later, I am left with such great remorse and sadness.
In church this past Sunday, singing “How Great Thou Art,” the words so tugged at my heart that tears began to fall out of my eyes. It was as if someone had pricked a tiny hole in my soul and tears flowed, slowly at first, then uncontrollably. The tears were there, lying just at the surface of my emotions, and once tapped, there was no stopping the flow.
I came home to a beautiful, crisp sunny cool morning. I sat on my back porch, underneath blue skies and blowing fans and I cried…and I cried…and I cried. The deep sadness seeped out of every corner of my being. I ached and mourned the loss of Steve as if he had left me, not almost two years, but a mere hours before. Where did this come from? How long have I been harboring this overwhelming grief?
My day continued. I went from sad to sadder. I cried, I ached, I replayed in slow motion every frame of every tortured moment from May through July 8th, I couldn’t stop this mental reel.
It is now Monday evening and this incredible pain is hanging heavy…so I write to try to relieve this ache ingrained within me.
Last night, I turned out my lights and as I lay in my bed I took my pillows and began placing them so that I might imagine being cradled with my head in Steve’s lap. Oh how I longed to feel his cool hands on my neck. How I hoped to hear his heartbeat so that I might be lulled to sleep. Twenty-three months…will I go through this routine the rest of my life?
On a normal day, I choose joy. I have a strong faith that enables me to, “Rejoice in the Lord…” to “Consider it all joy…” to know that God is “my joy and salvation…” So I claim these promises and I know this sorrow will dissipate. In these moments that cause me such deep sadness, I ask God to walk with me, to carry me through these valleys and to know, to really know, that Steve is in “His Father’s house, where there are many mansions…” and I know that he is waiting there for me to join him…someday.
Several days ago I ran into Walgreens to grab a diet coke. The cashier was shelving and we quickly greeted one another as I passed by. Grabbing my coke, we both headed for the cash register. A few more polite exchanges were made before handing her my money. It was then this lovely Indian woman locked eyes with me. Her accent was heavy and her English formal. She told me she sensed something deep within me. She asked if she could share this feeling with me. My heart stopped for a moment as I nodded. “I can see that you are happy on the inside and it shines through you.” I am sure my face mirrored hers as her eyes sparkled and a beautiful smile spread across her face. “I am happy on the inside!” I replied. I thanked her for her kind words and left a little lighter, a little brighter.
I believe with all my heart that God put this kind woman in my path. His way of constantly reminding me that He is with me, that his light is shining through me. I may have moments of sadness, but thanks be to God, I am truly happy on the inside. I do not walk alone.
Tomorrow, I begin a summer of traveling. Yes, I may be running, but…I’m thankful I have the ability to run. I leave for the beach with friends, I spend time at the lake with family, and the later part of the summer in the mountains with friends and family.
I must choose joy, I must choose life, I must choose to believe “that God is my refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.”
For what it’s worth,
“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."