Home again, home again. It is nice to be home again.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me what the hardest part of going through all this has been. I had to think about it for a while, as nothing really stood out as obviously the most difficult part. The initial diagnosis was tough, but we were immediately surrounded by friends with great faith, and we were surprised at how easy it actually was to stand up to a life-threatening disease and proclaim that we weren’t going down without a fight. The first hospital stay was tough, as three weeks in a single room isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. The physical side effects of chemo are a bit challenging. But, really, I wouldn’t describe any of these things as being all that hard to deal with. There was a way to respond to each, we found that way, and we responded. It wasn’t a cake walk, but the path forward was clear.
There’s one area, though, where there wasn’t an obvious way forward for me – still operating as the husband that Amy fell in love with. I love my wife and I love my marriage, but it has had some pretty clearly defined roles up until about two months ago. I did the grocery shopping. I paid the bills. I cooked dinner. I tucked Amy in at night. I killed all the scary bugs. I provided the shoulder to cry on when she had a tough day at work. I found that part of my reason for being on earth was to provide safety and security for my wife. And suddenly, I couldn’t do that anymore.
I couldn’t promise her that I would grow old with her. I couldn’t tuck her in at night. I couldn’t even be there for her when she walked in the door. With no real time to prepare, I lost my spot as her safety net. And, with it, part of my identity in who I am as a husband got left behind. I had to trust that she would be okay without me. That was hard. That is still hard.
In my weakness, though, He is strong. The void that was left by my physical absence from the house has been filled – and then some – by the fantastic encouragement of great friends. One in particular has taken it upon herself to send Amy a card almost daily since this entire ordeal began. These cards have often contained exactly the words that she has needed for that day – the words I wish I could have been there to say to her.
I’m learning, slowly, that I am not Amy’s safety net. We were put together to make each other better, to push each other forward, and to form a beautiful relationship that would bring us joy on a daily basis. But she didn’t pick me to become her savior, her champion, her rescuer. She already has one of those, and He can do abundantly above and beyond what I can ask, think, or imagine.
Through this whole process, I haven’t been able to be the husband that I was used to being. That’s been hard. But you know what? Amy’s doing great, and so perhaps the husband that I was used to being is not the husband that I need to be going forward. Maybe, instead of trying to be her safety net, I’ll just try and show her how much I’m in love with her, and how I’m so grateful for every day we get to spend together. I think I’ll start now, actually.
Amy – you’re the best part of my life. I’m so proud of you. You’re so much stronger than I’ve ever given you credit for. You are truly a gift from God, and marrying you was the best decision I will ever make. Thanks for being amazing not just through this challenging season, but through our entire marriage. You really are special, and you deserve to know it.