marriage mondays

We have been on a wild journey for the past 6 weeks!  Let me back up a bit. My mom was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer 3 and 1/2 years ago.  We have been thru surgeries, chemo, radiation, and so many ups and downs thru it all.  But the last 6 weeks have been the culmination of it all. Thats when mom went into the ER with severe pain under her rib cage and the doctors told mom that her cancer had spread all over her stomach and that it wasnt good at all.  Oh so hard!  Thus began the longest and hardest 6 weeks of our lives.   In 6 short  (long) weeks, we put about 5500 miles on our vehicles traveling back and forth to take care of mama. We have spent a ridiculous amount of money and cried more tears than we ever thought possible!  We have been away from each other weeks at a time (and missed each other like crazy!  I was literally home for about 4 days in a 4 week period!).  All that to be with my mama as she was dying.  Even though hospice was called in, and we eventually had round-the-clock care with nurses, my twin, my brother, my stepsis and sisinlaw and myself were all determined that mom would have one of us there at all times. It didn't really start out that way, it just kind of happened and when we realized how bad off she was, we all tag-teamed to care for her.  It was a group effort,  but I had the most flexibility in my schedule so I was the one that just ended up being with mama most of the time...sleeping on the couch for weeks so I could hear her slightest whimper (like having a newborn again...truly), being her advocate with nurses and fight for what mom wanted and most needed, and even when I was home, most of the time I was a sleep-deprived and an emotional basket case. I had very little of me to give to my family.

Now first off,  let me say this...I would do it all over again tomorrow, if needed.  It was such a beautiful gift to be by my mamas side for weeks and help her say goodbye to many loved ones and pass from this world peacefully.  However,  I know this journey has required sacrifices not only of myself but of my entire family and especially my unselfish husband! He has given so very much of himself in the last 6 weeks and asked for nothing in return.   He has stayed home for weeks without me, home-schooled our 3 children, kept up with their schedules, their activities,  their doctors appointments,  kept everybody fed (along with help from so many sweet friends & family), and even kept the house cleaned up...oh...and did I mention he also held down a full time job,  and corresponded with our photography clients, AND kept the bills paid!  And in all this, he kept calling to check on me and listened to me process about my days of caring for mom...and let me sob and sob and only comforted me.

Never once did he complain. Never once did he demand I come home.  Never once did he even offer unsolicited advice. He just loved me unconditionally and listened to me...for 6 long weeks!

He never demanded ANYTHING for himself.  He was so patient,  so giving,  so compassionate and so kind.  And when I thanked him, he acted like it was just completely normal for a husband to do it was just what he signed up for and like it was his pleasure to serve me! What?! Who does that?  I know he was totally exhausted and like me, wondering how much longer we could all be on this tough journey.  Nevertheless,  he gave and gave of himself asking for nothing in return,  and even telling me how glad he was that I could be with my mom.  I am so beyond blessed!

Now that is unconditional love! I truly could give NOTHING of myself to him for weeks...hardly even a smile most of the time.  He got all my leftovers and certainly not 1st place for 6 weeks! Now, I am certainly not recommending this! Pouring into your marriage is necessary if it is to stay alive and thrive, but this has just been what was necessary for us these past 6 weeks.  Of course Allen didnt have to give me up but what a beautiful beautiful gift he gave me!

My husband has always been the hands and feet of Christ to me but now more than ever!!

I know for certain this is the spirit of Christ in him, and he hasn't been able to do this in his own strength, as we both had to depend on the Lord for strength in this journey, but I also know he had to be willing to let Christ do this work and willing to share me.  And I'm so very thankful he was.

So we just wanted to encourage all of you in your marriages to give everything you've got! It may seem hard in that season,  but seasons don't last forever.  They come and go.  And you may not always get something in return right away but you will get a stronger and more beautiful marriage for sure! And giving that unconditional love is so worth it!

Cheering you on,

Allen & Carol

For more on our cancer journey, see our blog posts Secret to a Fulfilling Marriage, Cancer-our family's journey, and For Better or Worse