Seven…

Three years ago, in 2017, I was driving the 1000 miles from Boston to Asheville. After a very painful, 7 week spilt from my husband, we comitted to try and put our marriage back together. We. As in two.

I left because I thought if I could just make my husband see how mean he was, maybe he could find a way out of the misery he was in. Without me. By the third day of separation, I started to realize that I was so verbally abused, and abusive, that changes had to happen for both of us. As individuals and as a couple.

I hurt so many people when I left, and some of them will probably never truly forgive me. It’s okay. My husband forgave me. I’ve forgiven myself. After three years time, I no longer seek, nor need forgiveness from those who won’t give it. My husband forgave me, our families forgave me, and most importantly, God forgives me.

Six months after returning to Asheville, our lives were upended again. We were vilified as parents, thrown away, and forbidden to see our oldest grandson. I’ve often wondered if the reasons given for the estrangement weren’t made up, and was the estrangement a form of retaliation? Retaliation for the pain I caused when I left my husband? The reasons for us being thrown away don’t matter anymore, we were able to stand against the pain together. My husband held my hand, I held his. My husband let me cry in his arms, he cried in mine. We stood up for one another, determined to keep moving forward.

Seven weeks later, (seems there might be a commonality going on) I spent a weekend in Charleston, SC, loving on, and being loved by, the daughter and grandkids we were allowed to love. That trip was the application of stitches that started to sew back together my shattered heart. When I got home, my husband was gazing into the backyard and didn’t know I was there. When he realized I was standing behind him, he turned to me and said “I think we should sell the house.” I asked why before considering what he’d said, and he answered with “my Poppy heart is lonely and I want to love our grandkids.” I said yes to selling without hesitation.

After the decision was made, we spent the next seven weeks getting ready to list the house. Cleaning, purging, updating smaller things like doorknobs, hinges, painting, and replaced the roof. Busy times. Very busy times.

We listed our house on August 3rd, had a full price offer within 24 hours and closed on August 30th. We packed up a large POD, a storage unit, and headed north, to Boston. Again… Just for a visit, though. I had found a smaller house on a quick weekend trip back to Charleston, but our close on that property wasn’t until Sept. 28th. We took our time driving to New England, stopping often to enjoy the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley, the Pocono Mountains, and the changing colors of fall in New England.

We had been in New Hampshire about 7 days when my beloved mother-in-love tripped over a threshold and fell. She broke her femur and I am so glad my husband and I were there when it happened. I called 911 and by the time my husband came down to the garage, we could hear the sirens. Off she went to Manchester, later to have surgery and go to rehab. She did well and went home after we left.

I write all this to let you all know that life happens. Sometimes we determine our own course, at other times we are pushed along the road of life, even if we don’t want to make the drive. Since moving into what should have been our last home, we have sold that home, purged again, driven thousands of miles and settled in New England. My husband’s stroke in October of 2019 has been the determining factor in all decisions made since, and we are both exhausted by life now. Yet it seems there is more to do…

Not being able to see my husband in hospice is slowly killing me, and he is incredibly lonely. How could he not be? I’ve been trying to make sense of the non-visitation rules, but I can’t. I’ve been trying to keep myself from falling apart, I fail. What I can do is remember that my husband and I rebuilt the foundation of our marriage on the Rock that is Christ, we put ourselves and our marriage first in a non selfish way and that we choose love.

This part of my life hurts. There are no words out there to describe how hard it is to watch your spouse die. Now I can’t even do that. I call every day to check on him, but not being able to hold his hand, kiss his face or just sit quietly with him is beyond comprehension. He’s dying. Alone. Physically. My husband never walked away from his faith like I did, and the promises we depend on to keep us strong are just that… strong promises. We share an unbreakable bond, and that bond is what will keep me going after he’s gone.

Darkness comes. Often. More often than I would like. I spend my days praying for the man I love more than my own life. I pray that the peace and rest he so richly deserves finds him. And finds him soon. I pray that I will be strong enough to let myself fall apart and just be. I pray that the broken hearts that have already shattered because of my husband’s stroke be healed with love, and time, and grace.

Thank you for reading this, and please know that there is a day, somewhere down the road, that light will shine upon you again. On me. On my family. And friends. The storms don’t last forever… right? They just feel like they do…

Photo by Barb Enos

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