While preparing for marriage, people offered a great deal of advice and commentary, some of it not exactly welcome. Out of the plethora of statements and suggestions, one seemed to be most frequent especially from veteran married couples. “Marriage is hard sometimes. But, with lots of love, even the hard moments are beautiful and make you stronger.” Naturally, I envisioned couples bitterly fighting late into the night, wondering if their marriage would last. Not I, would cross my mind. I realize now, that’s not necessarily what they meant.
This last week saw a great joy followed very quickly by a great tragedy in my husband’s and my life. Tuesday, we received a phone call that Richard’s brother Chris and his wife Sarah had had their second child several days early. Sophia was healthy and fine, and could we come down and help watch Eden, their oldest son? Of course. A darling, bubbly child, Eden is a joyful two year old boy that we love to be around. Richard took leave, we packed, and hit the road within a few hours to spend the night. We arrived at the hospital and, as I was holding little Sophia, realization and nervousness hit me that my own little one, squirming in my abdomen, would arrive soon and I’d be holding my own. We all smiled around the new life and the happiness of Eden as he met his new little sister. Truly, God’s joy was almost tangible in the room.
Then, the call came. Richard’s stepped into the hallway and we heard the distress in his voice. We caught snippets of the conversation and faces became serious, emotions fell. He got off the phone to tell us that his and Chris’s mom was in ICU and in very serious condition. Minds processed the information, emotions fell severely and, in a moment, wives were holding husbands as they broke down.
We left for Houston the next morning and spent the next few days with Richard’s father and next to his mother’s bedside. Not one to enjoy watching people suffer, it pained me more than words could describe to see his mother in that state. Tubes, wires, and machines were everywhere and she looked so flat. Prayers were said, tears shed, and encouraging words offered to a woman in a coma.
In one flash of a moment, I understood what all those couples meant. They weren’t necessarily citing fighting and tension. As I looked into the broken face of my husband one night last week, fear overtook me–a fear that seemed to cut into my heart and lungs at the same time–we threw ourselves into each other’s arms. We could not be strong alone–we were strong only together. He told me later that week, “I couldn’t have done this without you. It’s so much easier to be strong with you here.” I don’t know what I did or said, but apparently my prayers of being his support were answered. I had felt sadly inadequate the entire time.
We are home now, still living by the phone and email for updates and making decisions a family. Prayers still are being said and occasional tears still fall. We are beginning a long road and I can’t see as I look out. I still am watching my husband suffer deeply–a personal hell for any wife. But, day by day, Richard and I stand by each other. We hold each other and support each other. One day at a time. That is all that can be expected right now.
One blessing, through all the sadness and Crosses right now, can be acknowledged. This tough, painful time is strengthening our marriage more than I think I can even realize. I see us growing incredibly closer, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I remember learning that while God does not will us to suffer, He always brings good out of it. Praise God for this Goodness. While this wouldn’t have been my chosen method, I am thankful for the strength and humility this is infusing in our marriage. So, those married couples know what they are saying. Life can be so tough. But, when this chapter concludes, the strenght, humility, and beauty added to our marriage will truly be a blessing from God.