A year ago, we went on what would turn out to be our last date. I wrote about it here – https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/brunch-date.
Dave was so proud of me. The kind of proud where you stop the proceedings to take pictures of your wife on stage. The kind of proud where you talk about her to everyone you meet. Everyone needs that kind of cheerleader in their life. I miss that.
I just upgraded my phone since my old one decided that it didn’t want to charge anymore. I spent some time listening to voicemails on my old phone and came across one from Dave. He was calling to say that he appreciated something that I had done, and he just wanted me to know how grateful he was. Before Dave died I would have said that I didn’t need that kind of validation. But now I fully realize how nice it was. I miss that.
That’s not to say that our marriage was all sunshine and roses. Dave struggled with some pretty mighty mood swings, and I am plenty flawed myself. There were times in our lives where we rolled up our sleeves, dug in, and fought for our marriage. There were times when we had to tune out the voices of well intentioned friends and family, look one another square in the eye, and pick each other.
During the height of Dave’s cancer journey, we had make that choice again. I think that Dave had reached a point in his treatment where we both kind of knew how the story was going to end, but neither of us was willing to admit it. At that same time, an old friend of Dave’s who reappeared in his life when he was diagnosed, seemed to become more and more a daily part of his life believing that she was providing valuable support. Dave really liked talking to and spending time with this person because she provided an escape from reality – a connection to simpler times and a place where cancer was not a prominent feature. At one point, out of desperation I believe, Dave decided that spending time with this person was more important and preferable to dealing with the reality of his situation and the impact it was having on his family. Just to be clear, I am not suggesting or hinting at any kind of infidelity or romantic relationship. Dave was the most loyal person I have ever met. But he decided to leave. I will never forget overhearing a voicemail from a helpful and supportive family member offering to take him apartment shopping. It was at that moment that I knew I could let it happen or hunker down for the biggest fight of our marriage.
So, I fought.
At the time I was so angry at everyone involved. Now when I look back, I realize the good that came from that time. What followed was probably one of the strongest periods of our marriage. Dave got long overdue help with his mood swings. We were mindful of each other. We were respectful and kind. We were grateful and connected. We chose each other.
Remember when I posted some song lyrics here? https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/i-choose-you? They probably make more sense now, right?