When was the last time he took my hand and we took a walk together? When was the last time he could stand up from the couch without thinking about how to stand? How many years ago was the last time he could golf–his all-time favorite activity? When was the last time our home did not involve daily groans and pain?
As a mother, I vowed to cherish everything about our sons: every flutter as they swam in the womb, first grins, first toys, first words. My heart skipped beats when their little hands kept reaching for mine well into elementary school years. I knew their childhood would end. I treasured their soft skin and cuddles. I would not squander those moments. And while storing up sweet memories I welcomed the fact that one day our boys would move on to a greater destiny beyond their mom’s heart.
What I did miss was treasuring simple moments with my husband. Yes, I appreciated him. Yes, we tried to spend time together. Yes, we overcame the fact that opposites really do attract and chose to draw closer to God, our translator, to communicate. Yes, we did not give up on our marriage or each other. But did I truly cherish him? I didn’t think he was leaving. And he hasn’t left, but sometimes it seems like he isn’t all here either. My mind reaches for precious moments of ease that I forgot to store in my brain.
Grief arrives in many forms. Sometimes we grieve the loss of a job or relationship. I’ve endured the pain of people close to me passing away. You may have too. And now I endure the pain of watching chronic illness ALS-21 steal expectations we had for our present and future. Our youngest child is a teenager. I thought we had more time before hubby and I grew old together. But symptoms of old slowly moved into our home decades too soon. We are like the metaphoric frog in the pot of tepid water who didn’t know the heat was about to turn up. We sat calmly in the pot not noticing that the water began to boil our circumstances.
I spend hours each week clearing “stuff” out of our house. It feels like we are in a race against the clock to move to a more accessible place. We had plans to remodel that will never happen while we are here. I feel the ugly emotion of jealously toward people I haven’t met who will do projects here that I likely will not see. Tears drizzle my checks occasionally over leaving our home of 20 years too soon. What really got me down deep was when our oldest son was home on leave from the Air Force. A couple nights he didn’t want to go see friends. He shared that he just wanted to enjoy the walls of our home because he knew he might not ever again get to come home to this address.
On the flip side of the moving coin, I celebrate the thought of being in a home where my husband doesn’t have to crawl upstairs at night. Are we old enough to require a no steps living arrangement? Apparently yes. This thought process requires me to clear clutter faster. Time is not waiting for me. I’ve quit looking at other homes online because I need to focus on the task of leaving this home first. I trust God will provide the right place for us at the right time.
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
I often tell myself that our situation could be worse, that there are worse things that people deal with. These thoughts push me along to be grateful for the good things in our lives that we do have, or things that are better because we’ve had to adapt. For example, I’m not sure my husband has ever verbally appreciated me more than he does now. His kind words mean a lot to me. We are also more forgiving and appreciative these days. It seems like we have reached a calm place where we are slow to anger and less judgmental. I thank God for the side benefits of sticking together and pushing through tough times as a team.
Are you grieving a loss or expectation of any size? It takes time to grapple with it. If you have tips or favorite verses about grieving that you would like to share, please comment. I’d love to hear from you.