There have been a number of instances in Nick and I's marriage where I had to step back and go, "woooow" (for good and for bad haha)
There have been monumental moments in our life together that stick out to me because of how he either rose to the occasion or just didn't compromise. I can think of early on when there were some job changes that required him having 2 jobs to make the money he was making at 1 job, so he worked 12 hour plus days. There was a time 6 years ago when he decided to quit smoking and we ended up buying a house that year. There was a time when he became a dad. He kept asking if I was ok if he went with ava to the NICU because he knew he needed to be with her, but was making sure I was ok during it all as well.
Then, there was Noah.
I'll never forget sitting in the room with him when the dr at Texas Tech had to tell us the diagnosis that Noah had. We had only just found out we were pregnant and that we were having a son. Then, to top it off, we were having a son with major medical issues, ones that were not always survivable.
He. Was. My. Rock.
He drove me home and for the next 24 hours he let me be and feel all I needed to. He let me yell, cry, question, cry some more, lay in the fetal position in bed, cry some more, question God, blame myself(he did fight me on that), be upset, be scared and be numb. He allowed me to grieve from day 1. The entire journey we walked with Noah was one that forced us to dig DEEP into our marriage commitment.
Our pastor and friend, Robbie Ashlock preached this last weekend on a very necessary subject. When the bottom falls out of life and you are at a point where you trust God and get a grip. There was a moment when he was describing a time in his and his wife's marriage during the illness and then death of her father and he said, "during all the drives back and forth from OKC, through all praying for him and going through it all we were solidifying our commitment to Christ as a couple." OK, I probably messed that up a lot, but out of the entire sermon I was stopped in my tracks by that statement. During the times the bottom falls out, we must, in our marriage especially, solidify our commitment with our spouse and Christ. We verbally confirm our faith in Christ, reminding each other when the other is at a low point that God has got us in his hands and in his plan.
That is what I remember most about Ft. Worth and Nick. Nick never waivered in his faith. I'm sure there were monents when he was home alone, being a single father to Ava, doing all the nightly baths and bedtime routine, making sure Ava had someone to care for her during the day, him working daily at his regular job so we could pay the bills, traveling every weekend to see me and Noah. Oh, I'm sure there were nights when he questioned and struggled with the Lord over the whys and what nexts.. but when he was with me, he was strong, always honest and real, but strong. Every surgery, every procedure, every update, every teary phone call from me, every random text during the day, he was fully invested in being my support system. He sacraficed time with his son, to provide for the family as a whole and to take care of the other child we have. He was limited on the amount of time he could spend in Ft Worth and yet he made every second of each trip count for both Noah and I. He was fully present for all of us during that time. Even the day Noah died, he was strong as I could have imagined him to be for us. He was raw and undone at the thought of losing our son, but he was strong, courageos and firmly gripped to the rope as well as to me as we watched the bottom fall out of our life that day. He walked me through my nerves as I was so scared that Noah would die in my arms. He assured me that it would be ok and that I was strong enough to endure it. He held Noah first, in the operating room the day he was born and mommy would hold him as he went to heaven. He let us stay as long as I needed once our nurse got Noah cleaned and dressed. Yet, he knew we couldn't linger forever or it would just get harder and harder to leave at all. He held me as I crumpled to the ground once I had to hand noah over. He walked me to the Ronald McDonald House room, he held me til I fell asleep, he drove us home to Amarillo that next day, all while maintaining an honest emotion, but in so much mighty strength. I know that Noah got so much of his mighty strength and peace from his daddy.
I write all of this, one because I am very pregnant with our 3rd child and I am very reflective right now and two, because Nick continues to grow into the role of husband and father every year and every season. We both grow. We have both adjusted to life and dealth with the roller coaster that grief brings a family. We have learned to grow with each other through our ups and downs since he died. Nick continued to show his strength when I couldn't function. The days I was so low and he would let me be low. The days I was super hyper to keep myself occupied, he would go along with it and do whatever random project or thing I needed haha. There were times when I was an absolute pain to be around and he would wait it out. I could go on and on of all the things I remember about Nick's journey, but you get the point.
We aren't perfect by any means. Nick and I have our general and usual arguments and disagreements, we aren't perfect parents and frustrate each other at times. We have our personal faults and we have our issues we still deal with on a regular basis.
Life happens and we go through terribly hard times for reasons that sometimes we don't understand. I know at the time I wasn't thinking, "our son is so sick, but it will all be ok because it will make Nick a better husband and father". Ya know? We were going through so much darkness and hardship, but we didn't know all the growth that would come from it until AFTER, it all happened. You could be stuck in a huge rut spiritually, but if I told you that in a matter of months, you would look back and see that you were really growing?
I have found that I have grown, myself, over the years. I am thankful for the ways I have learned to repsond to situations, not just react. I am realizing that not all things are so serious or hard, but that things will always work out and trusting isn't easy, but worrying isn't trusting. I have allowed the grief road to shape me in ways I didn't know I needed change in. I am more aware, more intentional, less stressed and more focused. I still struggle with age old things, because I am very human haha, but I am not obsessed with how people think of me or if I'm pleasing everyone all the time. I struggle with it, but I'm learning to let it go. I've learned that people expect things of me that I can't nor will I ever measure up to and I have to give myself grace to not always please people.
Grief can either keep you in a hole or it can push you to new heights.
I look back and see how incredibly blessed I am to be married to the caliber of man I am married to. I am grateful for the grace and mercy given to me as I have walked this journey.
I look ahead and in 33 days we will have a new little girl in our family. Right now she is still this "idea" almost. I have dreamed of this coming season since Noah died. I remember having this little girl's name picked out not long after we burried Noah. God is faithful. He is able. He sees the whole picture and walks us through the refining fires.
The choice to grow is a daily one. The choice to quit asking why is a hard one. The choice to move forward and become the best you, you can be, is something you'll never regret.