About a year ago, shortly before Kaitlyn passed away, I was sitting next to her in our living room. She was in her recliner, and I was in one of our dining room chairs. Earlier in the night some precious ladies and dear sweet friends had joined her for a night of worship. I slipped into the back room telling myself it was for Kaitlyn and her ladies. Had I stayed, I would have been the only guy aside from her dad who sat in the kitchen just to be a part of it. So I wasn’t necessarily wrong in thinking that, but let me tell you, I regret nothing more in my life than not being present that night. Looking back I can be honest with you and with myself and say that the real reason I hid is because I wanted to escape the heaviness of that moment. I spared my emotions, but at the expense of my wife’s feelings. Once everyone had left, I sat next to her in the aforementioned dining room chair, and she told me that she kept looking for me, and I wasn’t there for her. It cut me deep knowing that she couldn’t physically get up and retrieve me from our office but wanting so bad for me to be next to her. The thought that crossed my mind was that under any other circumstances it wouldn’t have been an issue. In fact, she probably would have wanted me to leave, but her life was coming to a close, and I wasn’t by her side for an hour of it. That’s an hour I can never have back. It broke me, but not all at once and not single handedly. There were two more blows that I suffered that night. I apologized to her for not being there and promised that I would always be there from then on. She forgave me and as I sat holding her hand in mine the conversation turned to less important matters. At one point she looked up at me and said “I want to start having the little conversations”. I asked what little conversations she was talking about, and she said, with all sincerity, “Like whether or not you get remarried.” I couldn’t help but laugh and let her know that the remarriage conversation is far from a “little conversation” but ok, let’s do it. “What do you think?” I wasn’t really prepared for her response. She reached up with her hand that I wasn’t holding and touched my cheek and said, “My initial thought is yes, because you’re going to be the best dad.” How in the world do you respond to that?! The only woman in the world that I can imagine having children with, the woman that I thought I would have children with telling me that she wants me to remarry, because she wants me to have children!? I couldn’t wrap my head around it, and I was speechless. At this point, building on the shame I felt from not being there earlier in the night to the overwhelming love I feel now, it was taking everything inside me not to lose it. We talked about it for a bit more and then she started to get tired so we just held hands and listened to the “Entering the Heavens” playlist that I’ve previously mentioned. “Miracles” by Kari Jobe came on, and she rested her right arm on the chair, raised her hand in the air, closed her eyes, and started to sing, “I believe in you, I believe in you, you’re the God of miracles.” I just sat staring at her, in awe of her faith. When the song had finished playing she looked up at me with a smile on her face and said, “Okay, I’m ready for bed now.” But when she tried to stand up, she didn’t have the strength. So I picked her up in my arms and carried her to the bed. By the time I laid her down, Tracy could tell I was moments away from not being able to contain my emotions any longer so she graciously gave me the silent nod of understanding, and I quickly left the room. I grabbed Charles who had been sitting in the background and went into the garage. The second the door closed, I let a year’s worth of emotion go. Until that point, I had kept most of it contained. Sure I would cry, get angry, be sad, be scared, question, and curse but never all at the same time. In that moment, with our arms around each other and my head on his shoulder, the weight that I had tried to escape earlier in the night and all of the stuff that I had tried to contain “to be strong for Kaitlyn” over the last year, hit me. I just kept picturing her in her chair using what little strength she had to worship her creator, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to let it out. I’m thankful that Charles was there, because I ugly cried and I needed a shoulder for that. When I gathered myself, I went back into Kaitlyn’s room and she asked where I had been. I told her that everything that had happened over the course of the night had coalesced in just the right way to break me. One more time that night her selflessness was displayed because she said, “Well now I’m worried about you”. I smiled and told her not to worry, that Jesus is dealing with me. I told her how much I love her and how much she inspires me. I prayed with her, told her good night, and thanked her for being so faithful.
We’re approaching a year since her death, and I still think about this night often. I’m haunted by the mistake of being absent from worship with her. I’m thankful to know where she stood on me getting remarried one day. I’m inspired by her determination to worship our Lord. I’m honored to know that she was concerned for me and what her absence from my life would do to me. Most of all though I’m convinced that God orchestrated the entire evening to teach me a lesson in His goodness. He uses even the heaviest of situations, and He can take them and make them so sweet. At the risk of sounding like an after school special, be there for the heavy stuff. You won’t regret it. Besides, you can’t escape it anyway.