When I Didn’t Need My Husband, & He Didn’t Need Me
What is this thing called love?
From the first kiss to the “I do’s,” and the late-night feedings, big fights, great makeups, and checking account mishaps, marriage and lovey-dovey don’t always co-exist.
I have said it before, I will say it again, there is nothing “cool” about man bashing.
I love my husband. He is my family. And, he is my best friend.
He mystifies, irritates, and delights me. Recently, I listened to a young widow tell me the tale of her 3-year journey of loss and I drove home pondering a life without Justin.
It would be awful.
Justin and Jami, to me it rolls off the tongue like Ken and Barbie. Although I have blonde hair, her pretension for fashion, and her brutally cold metabolism, we are otherwise common in no area. Justin is an olive complexion and he will not wear board shorts. He has never surfed or worn a dickie. Against my pleas, he wears socks and crocks with his summer shorts.
Apparently, he is quite confident of my love for him.
But on the reflection of my conversation with this young widow, I was further reminded of all the times I have needed Justin, and a time, when I did not.
It has been a little over two years since the removal of our young foster-love, Joy Baby. She is well. And this, this is of great comfort to me, and to Justin.
But in the year after her removal, Justin and I grieved alone.
I don’t remember that I didn’t need him. If memory serves, he didn’t need me. And that sounds harsh, it wasn’t that we didn’t need each other, but we didn’t need each other to grieve.
And contrary to what the books, Telemundo Romances, and church ladies might tell you, I think, no, I believe, this is okay.
Of the tragedies and traumas in my life, the greatest was the Friday evening I buckled a little muppet in her car seat and she drove out of our lives, forever. Although I remember every detail of those moments, I cannot remember where Justin was.
Certainly, he was there.
Definitely, he was dying, just as I.
But it wasn’t until about six months ago when Joy Baby’s birth mom asked us to get together that I realized, Justin had walked a painful and shattered path, without me.
Out of respect for him, I will not share the brokenness.
However, it was glaringly obvious, he bore the weight of an enormous and dreadful loss.
If I am to be completely honest, I hadn’t known how badly he was hurting, for my hurt was so deliberately before me. I couldn’t see or help Justin, because I was buried so deep under the throes of grief, I could barely take care of myself.
And, still, here we are.
Not untouched by the distance, but definitely stronger for the space.
And how can that be?
How can you wander the halls of a home, together and go through something so life-altering, apart?
I know, many couples cannot testify to surviving loss, intact. While this is sad, I also propose that you can have a strong marriage and still grieve, all by yourself.
I stand by my belief that grief is a celebration of a loss.
But I have also come to believe, it is a private party.
It is personal. And there is a selfish aspect to it, one that cannot be explained. My loss was mine. Justin’s was his. Yes, we went to dinner, made out on the couch, fought over the checkbook, crocks, and socks, and tried new recipes together.
But this thing, this place where we experienced such devastation, it was mine. And, it was his.
Of the rudest of platitudes, I think we afford one another is the statement, “I know EXACTLY how you feel.”
No friend, you don’t.
I am not here to compare my hurt and loss to yours, so please, don’t compare yours to mine.
[bctt tweet=”I stand by my belief that grief is a celebration of a loss. But I have also come to believe, it is a private party.” quote=”I stand by my belief that grief is a celebration of a loss. But I have also come to believe, it is a private party.”]
Last week Justin had an abscessed tooth. Immediately upon his first trip to the dentist, I moved into the guest room. I wanted him to have space to toss and turn, get up and take his meds, flip through channels, or snore, flat on his back.
Two days into his suffering I noticed him constantly and closely on my heels. Like a wounded puppy, he limped behind me. Finally, I said, “What are you doing?” and he said, “I need you to be by me.”
This is the opposite of how I roll when I am sick or hurting. My basic instinct is best stated in the words of Disney’s Emperor Couscous… “No touchy.”
But Justin, he needs to be hugged and loved on. And when he had those needs, he told me. Sometimes, I guess it is very easy to assume our partners are connected to us by the same needs. I can testify, this is not true.
And when I needed to talk about Joy Baby? Justin asked me not to. Talking is not what got him through the grief. But I don’t remember ever resenting him for this. Mainly, because the man rarely speaks. I just remember that I had other people I confided in, mainly Jesus.
Alone in my car, on a hundred occasions, Jesus and I talked about Joy Baby. He knew.
So, as I composed this in my head, I got lost on a back road to pick up our daughter from school. With no idea where I was, I needed Justin. He would laugh at my writers’ brain and I would eventually find my way to the high school.
But I knew, when I wrote this it would not be an advice column or how to blog. It was more a confession and plea to my friends, my readers.
Go easy on the grieving.
We were created to love. And we were bread to survive loss. Together we are better, alone we are known, and adored.
There is no perfect formula for the broken. And I can say on the other side, there are times we need, and times we do not. Communication and trust are paramount, love conquers all.
May your floors be sticky and calling ordained. Love, Jami
To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.. Ecclesiastes 3:1
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