My husband passed on November 15, 2018. He died in his sleep. I had gone to the other room. I was surly and tired. If I had known, I wouldn’t have left. I wonder two things: did God drive me from the room so He could take His beloved child, or did my husband drive me because he was so tired of living a half life? I do not know, but I believe as we often believe somewhere between the heart and the mind, in a bubble of hope, I believe it was God and my husband together. They had a deal and I wasn’t privy to a mystery which I could not keep.
The bubble of hope stumps me. In the middle of profound grief, I find myself smiling. Maybe God did do it. Maybe God sanctioned my husband’s leaving. I hope He did. I know He is with God, but to know further that God scooped my husband up according to God’s perfect plan, this is beyond me.
I have stories, memories I want to get down, some I almost lost but for friends recalling them. This Advent season I will post a few.
I begin with a recent story. Two weeks before he passed, I was struggling with how to serve him. He shouldn’t drive, not that he didn’t try, but he was too tired and his truck was in the shop, so my warrior, my pilot, my adventurer was stuck in front of the television with old re-runs and two lazy dogs. He ventured out only for dialysis three times a week and returned spent, still trying to feed me with a take out sandwich, trying to feed the dogs by buying dog food. It broke my heart. We had planned to travel. Maybe he would help me learn to fly, maybe he would finally teach me Karate. He was a cook when we were first married, maybe we could at least cook together teasing each other about what tasted good, and that, according to him, bologna was an excellent entree. Instead, he was a whisper a tangled thought maybe a thin mist of himself in a big chair with the volume on high.
I came in that afternoon, determined to do something right, determined to scoop him up myself, if for nothing more than a diversion “Come on,” I said. “We’re going to go vote.”
“But it’s not election day.”
“I know but we’ll go early. Let’s go feel the power.”
He chuckled. “Let me get my shoes on.”
Was it then that I noticed his eyes, they were bigger, more childlike, happy for a small gift of time from his too frequently occupied wife. They shone like aquamarine, magnified and lightened in his glasses. He smiled, delighted. Oh that I would have done something for that smile a thousand times more often. But I had it that once and I wouldn’t waste it.
We went to the early voting station, but I couldn’t get into the close parking. We agreed he would be fine, that it would even be good for him to walk a little.
We walked slowly and though it was a rare cool day, the sun was pleasant away from the wind. I watched him walk bent and slow, holding on to the wall because he didn’t want me babying him. It didn’t matter. I wouldn’t have minded. I wanted to help. I wanted to scream. I wanted him whole and vital as much for his sake as mine. I prayed for a kidney, I prayed for strength in his legs to return, I prayed for that bubble of hope.
Inside we found friends. My former sister-in-law and her husband, kind people. We were delighted. They were delighted. We were all voting, exercising our rights and our minds, participating in life and civics and things that matter. We were part of a teaming mass. We were vital. It was a good day.
My husband cast his vote first, while I was still talking to my sister-in-law. My breath caught. He wasn’t confused, or disinterested. He had finished by the time I found him. His grin really did stretch from ear to ear.
“Have you already voted?”
“Oh yes. I’ve been finished for a while. Just waiting on you.”
I was breathless. It was a familiar joke and told in a familiar way. He had joked that I really was going to be late for my own wedding. My heart skipped. “You’re teasing me?” I could hardly get the words out for the laughter spilling from every thought. My husband, for this short time and in this short way, he is mine again, and he cherishes me.
We might have bought sandwiches. We might have gone home and I made supper. I wish I could remember. So much, too much, is a blur. He was tired and slept in front of the television after we returned home.
But I remember his blue eyes, light and bright. They told me not to be so serious. They told me he loved me. They told me that just for a moment we were once again young and in love.