“But as they laid him in the ground
Her heart would sing without a sound
For the first time you can open your eyes
And see the world without your sorrow
Where no one knows the pain you left behind
And all the peace you could never find
Is waiting there to hold and keep you
Welcome to the first day of your life
Just open up your eyes”
This song gets me every time, but this time it hit me in a different way. This time I am…well, I don’t know, just overwhelmed with emotion at the incredible, sacrificial love that this woman has for (what my mind imagines is) her husband. ‘Her heart would sing.’ Her heart would SING???? Her heart would sing with the thought of the love of her life being set free from his pain. The pain she feels from her loss pales in comparison to the joy she feels for him. In her moment of greatest sorrow, she rejoices for him.
I can’t overlook one detail here. This isn’t a case of a woman whose husband lost his battle with cancer or some other horrendous illness. Oh he was ill, gravely ill, but not in the same way. His illness didn’t take his life for him. No. The choice was left up to him – continue to suffer in agony, or set himself free. He had to choose. Himself, or his wife.
His pain was soul-crushing. He had no fight left within himself.
She knew. She understood. Her love for him was so great that she could feel his pain. She could see the torment he lived with. And when he was set free, she released him. She encouraged him to go forward into his new life – his life without the pain and sorrow that plagued him for so long.
Can you even imagine? A woman has just buried her husband after he took his own life – and she isn’t angry. She is sad, of course, but above all, her heart sings for him.
Permission to be candid? I don’t think I can fully comprehend this selfless love. This love that asks for nothing. This love that stands strong, even when being left behind with such finality.
And my heart absolutely breaks.
It breaks because one day my husband gently looked at me as he stroked my hair, and said, ‘I know.’ As I looked into his eyes with tears streaming down my face, and I told him I didn’t want to be here anymore, he said nothing but, ‘I know.’ How could he love me so much that he could stay in that moment with me, and just recognize my pain? How could be put his own fears and hurts and needs aside for the sake of mine?
Strength. Strength I don’t understand.
I know the strength it takes to fight for my own life, but I don’t know the strength it takes to fight for someone else’s life. But I’m grateful beyond measure. That ‘I know’ means more to me than any two words ever spoken to me. The ‘I know’ proved the sincerity of his ‘I do’ twenty years ago.
The memory of all this is still fresh and raw. The pain comes back almost immediately at the mention of the subject. It doesn’t seem real, yet the feeling that wells up inside me reminds me that it is indeed very real. As much as I wish this wasn’t something we had to go through, I know that we are forever changed. We are changed for the better. We have scars – some that have yet to heal. But we have so much more. We have experience and knowledge and insight that we can use for good. We can find purpose in this journey. We will find purpose in this journey.
This, I know.