It’s amazing how the meaningless things fade away when you’re sitting in a hospital room with your dying husband. The trash he didn’t take out last week? Who cares? The parenting argument you had? Doesn’t matter. The money is in the bank? It can’t help you now.
All that matters is right now.
This. Moment. In. Time.
You are staring death in the face.
A few years ago, life threw my husband, Ian, and I a curve ball. Out of the blue, he was critically ill, and within hours of arriving at the hospital, approaching death. It was incredible. I had to pinch myself to be sure it wasn’t a nightmare.
Instead, it was like a sad movie. The kind of movie where you can’t help but cry for the poor wife sobbing over her dying husband’s body as the doctors tell her her there’s nothing more they can do. Say your goodbyes, they tell her. Get your preparations in order. Your heart breaks for her.
That poor wife, you think. How is she going to tell her three kids their father died? They’re all under the age of five! How is she going to make a living when he was the only provider in their family? God help her.
Then the movie’s over and you forget all about her. You’re glad it wasn’t you. Your life goes on.
Well, that wife was me. My husband was the one dying. My kids would be the ones told their father died. I was the one who had never worked worked a day since having our children. I was the poor wife from the sad movie.
Let me take you back to that hospital room for a minute. My husband is asleep with a breathing tube down his throat. The machines plugged into him are beeping constantly signaling his vital signs are not right.
Thoughts flood my mind. I wish I’d been nicer to him. Why didn’t I show him how much I love him? I should have been more interested in him. We should have spent more time together. I should have placed him above my kids. I wish he’d worked less.
As I sat in that room next to him, I envisioned what my life would look like after his death. All I could think about were the regrets I had. I’d wasted so much of our time together worrying about petty things, and not enjoying the moments. I’d criticized him for his mistakes. It was so hard for him to please me. You didn’t help me with that, I’d say. Why do you have to work tonight? I wish you were more like so-and-so’s husband. Ouch. Poor Ian. I was heartless.
I knew he strived for my acceptance. He probably felt like he couldn’t do anything right in my eyes. My expectations of him were high. And yet, when he reached the mark, I raised it over and over again. He felt like he couldn’t ever reach it. I’m so sorry, Ian. You were so good. I should have told you that. Please forgive me.
A wonderful unexpected turn of events happened. God answered the desperate prayers of a wife for her husband and graciously performed a miracle in Ian’s sick body! The doctors that prepared me for the worst were more stunned than I was with Ian’s miraculous recovery. (But, that’s another story for another day, friends.)
I’m so grateful my husband is still with me and our kids. Our scare a few years ago has been the best thing that’s happened to us. We don’t take one another for granted, and we definitely know where our priorities lie. I learned a valuable lesson the hard way. No more regrets for me.
We tend to be hard on our husbands.. Are our expectations realistic? Can they ever make us happy? Give your husband some slack. He’s probably doing the best he can.
And don’t wait until it’s too late to care. Tell him you love him and how much he means to you. Tell him you appreciate what he does for you and your family. Show him with your kindness and gestures as often as you can. Every day is a gift. If something unforeseen happens like it did to us, you’ll never have to worry about the what-ifs or should-haves.
(this post first appeared at lifeaswelearnit.com)