I want to write a love letter.
I’ve never really wanted to write one before–not really. I’ve always been massively intimidated by that art form, as I feel it comes far too close to the realm of poetry and while my heart of hearts aspires to be poetic, I have never felt equal to the task of painting with words, especially upon the subject of love.
But, I have things I would like to say to my husband.
On January 21st of this year, an infection began eating away at my brain and spine, and a mass began to grow on the right side of my head next to my brain.
I began to lose my ability to communicate and reason.
I was trying to walk but couldn’t use my left side.
I couldn’t see correctly.
I was in so much pain that I began to act somewhat mentally unstable.
I lost the ability to control my bladder.
I remember only fractured pieces of moments from these days. I believe that was God’s way of protecting me from having permanent brain damage and permanent physical limitations.
I was pushing my husband away because I thought he kept coming up too fast on me (because I couldn’t process movement or understand English).
(He didn’t fully understand what was going on because I had gone to the doctor at the beginning of this situation, and been told I had a bad ear infection and was given antibiotics and pain medication and told I would be fine in a few days.)
I was completely incoherent.
I tried to take a shower with my clothes on, and I wouldn’t let go of the bed at one point when he was trying to take me to the emergency room.
When we got the hospital, the gave me sedatives. Morphine. A CT scan. A spinal tap.
For eight hours while I was not conscious, they did not know what the outcome would be.
For eight hours they talked to my husband about the possibility of permanent damage.
Worry about how this will affect our unborn baby.
For eight hours, my husband sat by my side, praying. For those eight hours, he made sure I had some dignity.
And then I woke up.
I didn’t know what we had been through. He didn’t tell me right away. He was just there, smiling at me, looking calm. Solid. As I imagine Christ must have looked as the ship nearly sank in the storm. Completely confident in a peace the surpasseth all understanding.
And I had no idea what day it was.
I couldn’t feel my left side.
My head was in excruciating pain (mostly from the mass that had grown in my head).
I was still struggling to understand English.
But he was there, so I couldn’t be afraid. He was there looking down at me with absolute confidence and faith, and talking slowly so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed.
He was there with a Luna bar so I could have some protein.
He helped me eat it (because I am left handed and couldn’t use that side of my body well).
So, how do I tell him?
How do I tell him how much I love him?
How do you thank a person for holding on and having faith like that?
Do you know what the first thing he said to me was?
You look beautiful.
How can I possibly tell him my heart melted forever when he said those words as I was sitting in ICU getting a catheter and I knew he meant it?
How do you poetically write about the depth of love you feel when someone has changed your clothes for you when you couldn’t and had lost bladder control?
No one really talks about that kind of love.
Maybe there is no poetry for it.
Maybe there are no words.
And the finest thing he did for me?
He never let the kids see me like that.
He protected me from having to try and explain something that would have terrified them and been inexplicable to most of them, and that is where my heart burst–when he reassured me
They never saw you like that. Only the people in the ER ever did.
How do I tell him that it makes me feel like I am absolutely, assuredly safe, not just in Christ’s arms, but in his, because he has loved me as Christ does and proven that the covenant of eternal love we have made outweighs even mortal peril or change?
How do I tell him that I know Christ better now through him? How do I explain this love that is so far beyond any mortal, earthly thing and is actually a living, eternal entity of itself?
A few days after being admitted to the ICU, I realized that I will be having a thorny path to recovery. By all medical rights, I should be dead, so having to recover over time is to be expected (but I am so not good with time!), and I don’t care about the pain or how long it takes, because I am just glad to be here. And hoping and praying that my white blood cell count will start dropping.
I realized when I woke up in ICU that my heart’s desire truly is my husband and my children.
There was nothing else for me.
Nothing else came to mind but my sweetheart and my little ones.
And, of course, Joy was with me. The whole time. Sometimes Addie Jayne (who we are expecting to be born in May), was with her, and they giggled little girl laughter together beside my bed. Often, there were other angels with me–women who are part of my family tree who are now actual friends of mine. I was always aware of them right as I was waking up out of sleep. I would see them and then get a bit startled because I would always realize they were not the living-currently-on-this-earth angels but ones who have already passed through mortality.
And I knew then that they have always been with me, all along, as I have prayed for angels for many years. And I realized we are never alone.
And my husband blessed me and prayed with me and helped me and reminded me to see all of these things. To see rightly with the heart.
A few days before this experience, I woke up crying in the middle of the night from a bad dream.
I woke up my John and told him I had just had a dream of revelation from Heavenly Father, and in the dream, he and I had both crossed the veil, and I had had something happen where I couldn’t use my legs. Anyway, we were having an interview of sorts in heaven, and there was one thing that mattered for us in the interview.
How holy and happy was our marriage? Had we been able to sacrifice to have children in our lives?
You could sense in the interview that for John and I, the answers to those questions were what would allow us to return to the presence of God.
And we passed the interview, but I knew I needed to love my husband better and more dearly, or something was going to happen where I would either die or not be able to use my legs.
I also had the impression since December to pray that I would not have a stroke. Two separate readers of my blog had sent me book recommendations about two different doctors who had survived strokes, and I had felt an immediate impression to pray that I would avoid one. I had no idea why. I also had the impression that I needed to move the master bedroom downstairs for awhile.
I didn’t know why.
Now I do.
And I am still no closer to that love letter!
Perhaps my love letter can be my willingness to keep a positive outlook as I learn to walk again.
Perhaps my love letter can be my willingness to see the beautiful in myself as I learn to eat again with utensils.
Perhaps my love letter to the love of my life can be in my loving of his children and in my patience as I tackle the challenge of learning things that I feel I should still know, but just can’t quite grasp.
Perhaps my love letter can be casting out worry, because why should I worry when I have such a man who loves me?
Perhaps my love letter can be smiling when I feel like crying, or choosing gentleness when I would prefer to pitch a fit.
Perhaps it can be learning how to cook (I would say relearning, but who are we kidding? 🙂 ).
Perhaps it can be in finally, finally letting go of all of my fears of “not doing a good job” and accepting that I can do a good job, even if it’s not worthy of having a personal photographer or a magazine spread in my life.
Perhaps my love letter can be having the courage to truly live and see with the heart as a permanent way of doing things, instead of only doing it in momentary chunks.
Perhaps it can be in acknowledging the massive amounts of joy that is ours to claim because he is my husband and we have made promises to each other and we have proven over time that we will keep those promises.
Did I mention that on the way home from visiting me at the hospital one night, during the worst storm this winter, he rolled over in our car and it was totaled and he nearly died himself?
And, the funny thing is, I think we were both ready to meet our God and tell Him we did our best, but I am so absolutely filled with gratitude that our children are not orphans and that we are still here and that we have had a chance to feel what it is like to be on the other side, and to know what really matters.
I don’t think we will ever forget.
And, maybe, in the end, that will be my love letter. To always remember–to keep a record. To never forget how my husband proved to me that there is a love that makes “fireworks” look pale and insignificant–our love burns eternally, as a star powered by Heaven itself.
Oh, how I love him. How I love him with my entire soul. How I pray for a long life to have more breath to show and prove to all heaven and earth my love for this man. How I look forward to living a long life to show how much I love his children.
Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. ~Kahlil Gibran