Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
I know she had not been home for 22 days but she was still here. I could go to her, now she was suddenly out of my reach. I could not get there. Andrea was gone. It is the difference between being away and being gone. It was hard. In the back of your mind you think she will be back. I think in part because we in the military are used to being separated and maybe this is what I relate to. But she is not away for a while, she is gone.
I have a friend who also lost his wife and we were talking one day in my office and he told me, the depth of your grief is proportional to the height of your love. I thought I'm in trouble! But I'm thankful I was blessed with a love so grand, it was worth the fall in order to see the view from that mountain top. I would not trade my love for Andrea to avoid this pain.
Some of you have sent me emails or blog comments that say you feel guilty for having gained through Andrea's suffering. I understand that feeling, I to have been blessed and benefited from the sacrificial love of Andrea. I have often said I would not trade this experience for a life without it. As hard as cancer was to watch, I was a better person for having gone through it with Andrea. In a way I guess that does make me feel guilty. To have benefitted from Andrea's suffering. But you know what; Andrea was honored to pour herself out to make us better. She was not prideful but she was proud of each of us.
Losing Andrea has revealed a gaping void in my life. I miss my best friend. I miss my wife. I miss Andrea. I miss talking to her. I miss helping her.
It has been so long since our life had been normal. It was Aug 2003 when Andrea told me she found the lump. I had just returned from a four month deployment in June so our last "normal" life was around January 2003. Think about all you have done, all you have experienced since Jan 2003. That was the last time we simply lived. I hardly remember just living. What did we even do with our time? What did we talk about? What made us laugh or cry? I really don't remember. Isn't that sad? Cancer just became our life. It consumed our time like it consumed Andrea's body. Then in an instant at 1:07 on Dec 17th it was gone. As fast as it came it was gone and it has left my life empty. Cancer changed our life and took away what was normal. But God replaced it with a life that was better. Love was more intimate. Conversations more meaningful. Laughter more satisfying. Time spent together more valued. Touches more savored.
As I look back at our life I realize that I really don't want what was "normal." Our life was special and cancer only intensified the great parts of our relationship. Cancer put life in perspective, and what our priorities should be.
Today I was faced with a seemingly insignificant item, Andrea's toothbrush and it brought me face to face with the reality of what happened on Dec 17th, but it also reminded me of the uniqueness of what we had.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.