Up until this very moment, I had only admitted this to a few close friends, but the truth is the last month or so I have been occasionally frustrated with my blog page.
I pour so much of my heart and soul into it, exposing my deepest thoughts, fears and emotions. I get frustrated because I feel like I have such a story to tell, such a journey to share – and yet, my platform isn’t big enough.
I want to grab a bullhorn and shout it from the top of a tower. Everything I have learned about love, loss, grief and that undying hope for a better tomorrow.
Something funny happens every time I feel that way though. Just as I begin to question whether or not to continue on this path, I receive a message, a comment or an email from someone.
Someone telling me what my words have meant to them. Someone telling me how much our story has touched them. And how thankful they are to have found my voice.
When that happens I am reminded of something that my wife told me while she was dying.
As I wept over her like a baby, telling her how much I hated this world, a world in which such a beautiful soul could develop such a rare and aggressive cancer at such a young age.
“John, we cannot change the world. Bad things will continue to happen. But if you can use this pain to help one person, for them the world will be forever changed. So make something good come out of this,” she said.
Those words have stayed with me to this day, as have so many of the words she said to me. A brave soul that, even while dying, comforted her husband an equal amount of times as he comforted her.
I feel that there is something bigger on the horizon for me. A larger platform to tell our story and help others. I can’t quite put my finger on it and I’m not entirely sure what my next step should be.
The combination spoken above causing a further frustration and lack of patience.
Sitting at the airport, waiting to board my plane to fly back home from a weekend trip, I received an email from Jessica.
It reminded me of something so important.
That message that Michelle so gracefully delivered to me.
The size of the platform does not matter.
Instead, it is the size of the message being delivered that counts.
Here is my response:
I receive so many messages from people who touch me deeply, as did yours. In fact, your message made me tear up.
Perhaps it was the travel fatigue, or the fact that I am on a four-hour flight home suffering from a stomach bug that sent me into crybaby mode—but I think it was more than that.
I think it was the line about your husband’s eyes.
The line you wrote about how the pain in his eyes watching you near death is worse than the pain you are feeling.
I know that pain. I have lived that pain.
Those words brought me back to a place I don’t often visit, but that is forever in my memory bank—just below the surface of where I allow my mind to travel on a daily basis.
It brought me back to watching Michelle die.
It was so long. And it was so painful.
Two and a half years of pure Hell.
It brought me back to the moments in which I couldn’t control my raw emotion, and I would break down in front of her.
A grown man so destroyed that I couldn’t even give my wife the support she needed, and deserved.
But then you said something else.
You told me that my words simultaneously broke and mended your heart, at least a hundred times.
And selfishly, I felt a sense of peace.
Peace that I could do something that helped a stranger now realize that she is not alone in this journey.
Peace that you now know your husband’s pain has been felt by many before, and will be felt by many after.
I can tell you that my heart has broken and mended more times than I can even begin to count, or remember.
The expected outcome of losing the love of your life for the second time, this time—for the rest of time.
After you told me about your story and how my writing had touched you, you finished the email with a serious of questions.
So let me answer those for you right now.
“How is it to actually lose a spouse?” you asked.
It is awful. It is so far beyond awful.
It is painful, and gut wrenching.
It is heart breaking, and soul crushing.
It is as if someone has taken a knife to your insides and will not stop stabbing them, without conscious or guilt.
“Was it all worth it, meaning would you do it all again even knowing that Michelle was going to die?” you asked.
Yes, Jessica—it was all worth it.
All of it.
Every single second.
Of every single day.
Hope, the only thing in this world that can combat fear.
The love shared, the only thing stronger than the heartbreak endured.
“Do you think my husband can make it if I don’t?” you concluded.
Your husband can make it.
And, I believe your husband WILL make it.
I believe this for one reason and one reason only: I made it.
When people hear me say that I was as low as a human being could go when Michelle was dying, they often wonder what I mean by that.
I believe that my words are self-explanatory.
If the worst happens, to you. The pain will be unbearable, for him.
There will be moments when surviving the minute, let alone the day or week, seems impossible.
Moments in which the shattered soul left on this Earth to grieve the departed will want nothing more than for God to call their number in hopes that the pain will go away and that the beautiful reunion will take place.
I know. I was there.
But now, I am here.
Still grieving my wife.
Still madly in love with my wife.
Still with a heart that doesn’t quite tick the way that it once did.
Still with a soul that will never quite be 100 percent repaired.
But, I am here.
Because I have survived.
Because daily, I survive.
Should this happen, should you go—tell your husband that he is not alone.
Tell him that others have felt his pain. And that others know his heartbreak.
Most importantly, tell him this:
Tell him that love does not end in death.
Tell him that the reunion will take place.
Tell him that it will be more beautiful than he could have ever imagined.
Until then, tell him to grieve. And to grieve hard.
Tell him to live. And to live with purpose.
Tell him to reach for happiness, laughter, and most importantly, peace.
Tell him to carry the love that he has for you with him. Each and every day.
Tell him Jessica, that you’ll only be a thought away. ️
Originally published on the author’s blog