One day I went for a drive. Had to get out of the house. Away from everyone. Everyone’s opinions. Judging eyes. Prying thoughts. Unrealistic expectations. Silent demands. I sought solace along the tourist loop. The breathtaking drive Dean had taken me on all those years ago. When he had brought me to this incredible place. I needed to be alone. I needed space. Everything was out of control. A collision course that couldn’t be stopped or fast forwarded. I drove. The sun was shining. Agony gripped. I cried. Cried out to God. Lord. Lord. Oh my Lord. The tears flowed endlessly as I rounded each bend. The islands. The beautiful water. The glorious sky. The place where Dean nearly proposed. My inner turmoil bubbling over. Erupting from the deepest wells of my breaking heart. My heart. Needing hope. So needing something. To cling to. To hang onto. God I need you. Jesus I need you.
And then, everything slowed down.
I looked into the sky. I could see Dean. Standing on a rock. Young. Strong. Healthy. Larger than life. With his long hair. As he had been. He was running. Barefoot. Jumping. Exploring. In this beautiful place. Completely restored. Completely renewed.
And I could see God taking me back to America to be close to my family who I had missed for so long.
He was setting us free. He was setting us all free.
Dean would be freed. Free of the pain and suffering that he contended with for so long. Free to live without limits. Free to do the things he loved. Unbound. Unbridled.
And I would be free. Free to leave Australia. To make a life for myself and the boys. Free of the torment of watching my Beloved suffer. Day after day.
Elation swept over me. Deep joy started to bubble up. I started laughing. God you’re so amazing! Lord you’re so faithful! God, you’re so good! Wow! Lord you are so amazing! I was driving and smiling and overwhelmed. The heavens opened to me. All I could do was laugh and praise God. I was now looking at the islands and the sea and the sky, not with Grief, but Hope. He gave me a glimpse. A glimpse of the awesome things to come.
I could see it all so clearly.
I know where he’s going. I know he’s going to be restored. I know that he’s going to a place infinitely better. With no more pain. NO more pain.
Other people were trying to keep him here. Not me. You have to go Dean. I’m sorry honey. You have to go. Let go. God is going to look after us. I know you want to. I wish you could. But you can’t. You have to let us go. We’re going to be okay. I spoke to him in my heart. Reassuring him in my thoughts.
As the days wore on, the tensions mounted. Tensions between family members. The mounting pressure we were all feeling in our own hearts. Stretched to capacity. Stretched beyond measure. We all had different ways of dealing with our pain. We all had expectations of each other. Expectations that we didn’t realize we had.
I wanted to be understood. I wanted everyone to understand that I’d been watching this happen in slow motion for almost five years. Living with it. Every step. Of the way. I’m weary. I’m at the end of my tether. I need grace. I need love. I need to just be accepted for wherever I’m at. I’ve slept on hospital floors. I’ve wept over this man’s body countless times. I’ve massaged him. Bathed him. Comforted him. Listened to him. Fed him, Cared for him. Everything I’ve had to give, I’ve given to this man. I have lived far away from my family for years. I’ve been grieving. Praying. Seeking. Following. Persevering. And walking. In this desert so long…I can’t remember what it’s like to not be in the desert. It’s all I know. And I’m so tired. I’m just so tired. It was all I could do to just get up in the morning. To just cling to my sanity. A bit like Moses, when his arms were getting tired. My strength was depleted. It was only the Lord that could bring me through now. I’m done.
He was turning yellow. Bright, alien yellow. The whites of his eyes were fluorescent yellow. He was completely bald with no eyelashes or eyebrows. In the last two months he’d aged decades. Maddox asked Dean why he was turning yellow. He couldn’t bring himself to answer. I was desperately hoping that Dean and I would get to sit down with the boys. Tell them what was happening. I tried to be as honest as I could with the boys about what was going on. I wanted to talk to them before Dean passed away. Try to prepare them for what was coming. It became obvious though, Dean’s will to survive and his desire to stay made it impossible for him to accept that he was dying. The idea of leaving us was too painful contemplate. It was a conversation he couldn’t bring himself to have. I would have to have it on my own.
I had spoken to the boys about heaven since they were babies. We had studied what the scripture says, read children’s stories, and had many talks about it. Heaven is a very real place to them. I felt that they would cope with Dean’s death much better, if they knew it was coming.
I took them in one of the back bedrooms of the house and we sat on the floor.
“Boys, we’re going through a hard time right now, aren’t we?”
The lump in my throat felt like a melon. I tried to keep my voice from quivering. “Daddy’s been sick for a really long time, huh? You know how his eyes are yellow now?” Oh God, help me do this. “Well, daddy is even more sick than before and he’s going to go to heaven very soon.”
Maddox burst out crying, “I don’t want daddy to go to heaven!” He crawled in my lap. Asher was more reserved. He had more of a delayed and complicated reaction. Much like myself. I understood that. He was processing. I hugged them both as my tears brimmed over. I was satisfied knowing that at least now they could brace themselves for what was coming. I had prepared them as best I could.