Creating JOY in the Midst of Sorrow
For six years, I’ve dated the same amazing man. Girls, you would be totally jealous how this guy treats me! Our very first date was absolutely amazing! He swept me off my feet.
He loved that I liked to be barefoot. I think it’s funny considering that he never goes barefoot. I think he takes his shoes off outside the shower door, but I haven’t been able to verify that yet.
He took me shopping and bought me things I would never have bought for myself, like shoes and purses. In fact, every time he would spend money on me, I would break up with him the next day. When you’ve spent twenty years with a man who doesn’t value you, it’s hard to be with someone who does. Kind of a strange dichotomy there. He wouldn’t ever let me break up with him though. He pursued me and wooed me. Finally I quit feeling unworthy and found that it was okay to feel like a princess.
On our second date he said, “I love you and want to marry you.” I thought that was a bit fast. Little did I know it would take six years for the “marry you” to finally happen. We would cry looking into one another’s eyes. We had a deep soul connection, one I had never felt with anyone. It seemed that holding hands was a spiritual experience.
When we first began dating, we would meet up after ten p.m. I wanted to be able to put my kids to bed first. I had a full-time job, plus seven kids still at home. They were my priority. Now that I look back on that time, I see how much we learned about each other because we were forced to spend time in unconventional ways. Often he would meet me at Wal Mart during my grocery shopping. One night during a full moon, we drove to the mall at midnight. He stopped the car in the middle of the empty parking lot, turned on a CD, then asked me to dance. He had been taking ballroom dance classes so he knew all the steps. I just followed, and fell deeper in love. We tangoed all around that parking lot. The security guard just stopped and watched. I felt lighter than air.
About six months after we started dating, I went to work at his company. We worked side by side for hours a day. For six years, we were nearly inseparable, but life was complicated. I have a bunch of kids. He has kids. We didn’t want to rush into a marriage without being absolutely certain. Also, he wanted a biggish wedding where all the kids and their families could come. I didn’t really care about the ceremony as much as I cared about being married. He started saving, but didn’t officially ask me to marry him.
Then the bad news came in the form of six letters – C A N C E R.
About the time my mom died two years ago, he started having a flare-up from a previous malignancy in his mouth. He prayed, changed his diet, took supplements, and tried to reduce his stress level. The issue would come and go for about a year. Then it quit “going.” The pain increased. Finally he went to the doctor who had performed his two previous surgeries. The prognosis wasn’t good. Since he no longer had insurance, the doctor needed a large amount of money up-front. He would have to sell his car, but he still wouldn’t have enough money. He didn’t want to have the surgery, so he pressed into God, praying for hours a day. Meditating on scripture, thanking God, etc. He believed he would have the complete manifestation of healing. Yet, the malignancy grew.
The pain he was experiencing became intense. He began to lose weight rapidly and could no longer eat solid food. He went back to the doctor who told him basically that without insurance, his hands were tied with the hospitals. He painted a grim picture of his future. Mike went back to praying – not that he had ever stopped. But suddenly he was face to face with his own mortality.
Life changes when you’re faced with that. He decided that a big wedding wasn’t going to happen, but he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. JOY in the midst of our sorrow.
We picked out rings. We were going to get married! He took me out to eat at my favorite restaurant in Southlake. He left the table to “wash his hands.” When he came back he took the ring out of his pocket and said, “Make me the happiest man in the world. Marry me.” I cried. He cried.
Six days later in front of a Justice of the Peace we whispered our vows to each other.