When you’re divorced, middle aged, and are given the gift of happily-ever-after with a second marriage, your optimism for the future is renewed. The birds sing again, the stars twinkle brighter, and the dark cloud of a failed marriage gives way to a clear, bright sky.
As we age, certain aches and pains are expected. However, you do not anticipate that less than a month in to a new marriage, you’d hear that your husband has an aneurysmal ascending aorta. His cardiologist sent us home with the recommendation that its growth be monitored and checked in a year.
For the next year, I watched this incredible gift from God, knowing he had a ticking time bomb in his chest, praying that this was not the day it ruptured and my happily-ever-after came to a screeching halt. I lived that year in absolute fear.
Todd’s surgery day arrived and before they wheeled him into the operating room, I told him two things; come back to me and I’d be by his side when he woke up. Then I waited. A “routine” surgery of 6-8 hours fast approached the 10-hour mark. My faith that up to that point was unwavering, started to develop hairline cracks. I had not received any updates from the operating room for almost 2 hours and my gut told me that something was wrong. Still, I inexplicably knew everything was going to be alright. It was about this time that the surgeon’s PA came out to the surgical waiting room. With tears in her eyes, she told me; “It doesn’t look good. You need to prepare yourself.” I didn’t know at the time, but the OR had called up to the CCU and told them that they wouldn’t be bringing Todd up there. I looked at her smiling through the tears streaming down my cheeks, reassuring her that everything was going to be alright and God would take care of His own. Unconsciously, I heard all of the reassurances I had heard and used over the years coming out of my mouth. Wonderful friends sitting with me began to pray. I did pray that His will would be done but in my heart begged Him not to take Todd from me.
My mind, heart, and soul were consumed with fear. A fear so powerfully debilitating it made me want to escape the concerned watch of my friends and hospital staff. I needed a place to break down and panic. I went to the parking garage, got in my car, and began to sob out to God to please, please, please, not take the man that I had waited a lifetime for. A man I was convinced God created in the womb specifically for me. I wasn’t’ just afraid, I was terrified. In my panic, I heard that still, small voice that you hear about. It said, “I have not given you a spirit of fear.” I responded, “I know, but I’m still so scared.” I heard it again; “I have not given you a spirit of fear”. “I know, Lord. You have not given me a spirit of fear”. “Say it again”, He told me. Before I knew it, I was sitting in my car, in the parking garage of the hospital saying over and over again: “You have NOT given me a spirit of fear”. When I walked back into the surgical waiting room there was a peace among those I had left. It was then that I learned that within only moments of the final “amen” the bleeding stopped and they were able to finish the surgery.
He was, during the surgery, given over 40 units of blood and blood products, was on the bypass longer than is typical, and had to rely on the respirator to do his breathing. Once in CCU, he was left on the respirator for another 12-18 hours, had 5 chest tubes (I was told that 4 was the max in the worst cases), and various lines going into his neck, wrists, and arms. I was told that due to the complications from the surgery, there could be damage to any or all of his major organs and he could suffer cognitive damage. But I knew that God is faithful and that if He brought Todd through the surgery, He would carry him through the recovery as well. And He did.
We started our marriage under a dark cloud and spent the next year walking a valley. But we walked it together. And knowing that any moment could potentially be our last together, we sought out every opportunity we could to find joy in the most mundane aspects of life. Adapting to life as a blended family was challenging enough without the added burden of a pending surgery. But God, in His infinite mercy, sustained us. I love the verse that says “My grace is sufficient for you”. Not more than we need, nor less than we can use. But just the right amount for every moment of every day.
One of his doctors asked Todd after hearing the harrowing details of the surgery; “Why are you still here?” He has been encouraged to diligently seek what God’s will for his life is. I wonder sometimes if our purpose isn’t as much a grand plan or realizing a great accomplishment for humankind as it is perhaps something to be realized to fulfillment every day. Whether to encourage someone, witness to someone, come to the defense of those unable to defend themselves, or be a source of hope to those who have lost their way.
I’ve discovered that it’s easy to speak of our faith in God when we’re walking along the peaks of the mountaintops but difficult to fathom after we face-plant in the valley. In the valleys of life, I have found, are a wonderful place to pray those verses we committed to heart when we were younger. They sustain us in the difficult times, and they strengthen our faith, our trust, our reliance, and our obedience to our Heavenly Father. This experience has re-directed us towards finding the daily purpose for why we’re here because as James 4:14 says; “ Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Daily, I give my thanks to a merciful God for not only gifting me with Todd, but for using the surgeons and medical technologies to allow His power and glory to shine through. Some may say that Todd is lucky to be alive. Some may give all the credit to the surgeons and medical technology. We know the truth; God and God alone held his son in the palm of His hand and carried him through the valley of the shadow of death. We are undeservingly blessed and know that whatever bumps in the road we encounter, we will do as Proverbs 3:5-6 says; “Trust in the Lordwith all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – Debbie Latour.
Check out Debbie’s Facebook page: S D Wote Society.
Is your marriage strong enough to face the dark trials and come out strong? Do you have a faith that will carry you through when nothing else will? Check out the “Teaching Series” link at the top of this blog site.