It had been a long battle. He fought cancer with bouts of hope and despair for at least four years.
My husband’s friend and fellow dentist in the community lost his battle this past Sunday. It was the sixth anniversary of my husband’s father’s death.
He was young – 43 or 44. He left behind a grieving wife and four children who lost their father far too early.
The mood around our house was contemplative. Quiet. And very, very sad.
When my practical-joker of a husband adopts this demeanor, I squirm. It isn’t who he is on most days and it catches me off-guard. I’m not always sure what to do with it, being the fixer that I am. It’s hard for me to just sit in pain though I know there are times when it’s our only option.
To just sit in the pain is uncomfortable. We want to do something, anything, for a bit of relief but unfortunately, grief doesn’t have a fast forward button.
Before bed, he stood in front of the fridge, wondering what to pack for lunch.
“We’ll get lunch for you tomorrow,” I offer, willing to do anything to alleviate any kind of effort on his behalf.
But the next day arrived and I was busy. I had seven, yes, seven, baskets of laundry to fold. My floor was a hot mess. My youngest child decided to paint AND use play-dough (apparently, it was a mixed media piece). I know I don’t need to explain the mess to all of you mothers out there.
Husband sends a text to inform me that he would be off at noon but if I wanted to bring lunch at 11 o’clock, that would be great.
My plans were being thwarted.
I began to grumble.
“Why can’t he just pick up lunch on his way home if he is going to finish at noon?” I wondered, eyeing my dirty floors.
I called the office. Cassie, the dear one at the front desk, casually mentioned he seemed sad over the passing of his friend and peer.
My heart softened. But not entirely.
When he got on the phone, we chatted a moment. Then, he casually added, “I would like to see you guys but if you can’t make it over, that’s OK.”
And then I got it.
It wasn’t about needing lunch.
He needed me. Us. He needed to see why He works so hard everyday and hug us a little tighter.
I didn’t pick up on the message because I was too busy being consumed with what I needed to do. With what was on MY to-do list. On what I needed to achieve before the older two came home from school.
Minutes later, he called back.
“You don’t have to come, I’ll be done at noon,” he said.
“We’re coming,” I say, thanking God for clarity. For grace. For mercy.
There are far too many moments when I forget he actually does need me. I have three young children and he’s an adult. He should be able to fend for himself, right?
There is a softness between a husband and wife that can only be understood by them. An intimacy reserved for just one another to see that transcends and crosses into daily life as reminders of their commitment.
And so very often, I miss the message entirely.
He needs me just as much as I need him. Even on the days when he acts completely self-sufficient. Even on the days when he thinks he’s being weak if he shows sadness. Even on the days he feels lonely.
I breathe in deep, thankful for the gentle reminder to reshuffle my cards, to place Jason above the floors and the laundry and the children.
He falls in again closely behind God, where he’s supposed to be.
And guess what? My floors still got swept. I folded three of the seven baskets. Dinner was made, and children were bathed and put to bed.
Nothing is more important than a man who needs his wife.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24 (ESV)
What about you? Do you struggle with forgetting your husband needs you? Do you expect him to be a “big boy” and get lost in the care of your children?