I think it’s time to talk about us. I mean I know it’s usually a private thing, but I feel strongly that I just need to put it out there and be real and open with even this. Grief takes its toll in so many ways. We’d heard about the statistics even before it actually happened and it frightened us, even then. A lot of marriages don’t survive the loss of a child. Maybe it’s because we all grieve so differently-in our own way and it changes us…forever. I’ll never be the same woman that I was before Sarah died. That “innocence” is gone. That wife who felt so blessed all the time because she had everything that she had ever dreamed about-she’s gone. Right now it feels like there will always be a dark cloud hanging over me and I know you have one too. So how do we make sure that our marriage stays strong?
I think the journey of cancer itself can be detrimental to a marriage. We were separated by circumstances so often for almost a year. There were so many raw emotions and pain even in the diagnosis itself and not being able to be together on the hard days to talk and comfort one another, made it seem all the more dangerous. You were suddenly overseeing everything at the house and I was focusing on caregiving 24 hours a day. Often times, there was so much to think about, talk about, and so many unknowns. Both of us trying to process and do the best thing at the time, given the ever-changing circumstances. When we did find ourselves together, I know I was exhausted and just wanted a reprieve from everything. Our focus had to stay on Sarah though, so we kept putting her needs first. We had to.
It’s all still so surreal when I think about how our lives changed over night. We went from a happy family of 4… to just the 3 of us trying to figure out what is now a new normal in the middle of a world pandemic. You, with your distractions of work, and your hobbies of hunting, fishing, etc… Me, trying to figure out what to do with myself now that I’m not caregiving…And poor Libby, suddenly the only child, with parents that want to “smother” her because of the indescribable loss that we’ve felt. The struggle is real.
One thing that has helped has been the grace that we’ve had for one another. You know that I’m not always having the same kind of day that you are having and vice versa. The darkness of grief hasn’t hit us at the exact same time for a while, so when we recognize that one of us is being hit by one of those “waves,” I’m thankful that we can communicate that it’s one of those times and then extend grace and support and even enter into that with each other. We give each other permission to feel and question whatever we need to and we don’t take it personal. Ultimately, it helps us pull each other out of it and our conversations turn to what we know is true about Sarah today. She’s good. She’s better than good in heaven.
I think we’re continuing to learn so many new things about each other. I know over the past year, I’ve admired your strength and watched you grow as a father, as a believer and a worshipper. You’ve even gotten a little “artsy,” which admittedly, even surprises you. I know there’s new things about me that are developing, good or bad, I’m not sure. You are patient with me though and are allowing me to find myself, if you will. If I was ever going to just “run away” from it all, I’d still want to run away with you. 26 years of marriage and we’re still trying to figure it out. I’m committed to us and I’m thankful that you are too.
Another reason why we’re weathering the storm the way that we are is because of prayer. We’ve had so many prayer warriors that continue to lift us up and cover us and our family–specifically, our marriage. So, “Thank you” prayer warriors! Please don’t stop lifting us up. There is nothing more that the enemy would love than to divide and conquer each of us, but like one of our favorite sappy Jack Johnson songs…we are so much “Better Together.”