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Following A Dream

We were sitting outside on a bench of some sort, facing each other, our knees almost touching. He was wearing his blue and white striped shirt and his Iowa Hawkeye black baseball cap. He was hunched over, leaning his arms on his legs with his hands clasped, the classic David pose when he was thinking. His head was down and I couldn’t quite see his face.

“Do you know what we should do?” my voice was excited.

He leaned closer, as if to make sure he wouldn’t miss a word of any wonderful idea his wife had, because even in the dream, I knew he loved me and wanted to hear whatever I had to say. I reached over to circle my arms wide around him, ready to hug him.

And then I was awake, with tears streaming down my face.

6-16-2012: My first dream about my husband since his death.

Yesterday was the last day I would be attending the Cedar Falls Christian Writer’s workshop. At the lunch table I found myself talking about David, and our marriage. “Our marriage was wonderful at the time of his death. It wasn’t always like that, but during his cancer treatment our marriage relationship had improved so much that I couldn’t imagine being any closer to him. Just as an example; three weeks before he died, David and I were at the kitchen table. I was busy writing when David jumped up to refill my coffee cup. That’s the way we had become; taking care of each other. I kept writing but I sensed him looking at me so I looked up and smiled and then went back to my work. When I looked up again, he was still watching me.

‘What? What are you thinking?’ I asked, and he said, ‘I’m thinking how beautiful you are, and how talented. How you can sit there and all these words come out of you. I love you so much.’

“I was in my pajamas, no make-up, messy hair, and he thought I was beautiful?” I told the group of women at the table, and I noticed one of them wiping her eyes. “I thought right then~This is what marriage should be like. I wish everyone could have a marriage like this.” Tears flowed freely down the woman’s face at that pronouncement.

Later in the day, she approached me.

“Can I ask you something, Mary? You talked about your marriage at the table. Do you ever regret that you got that close to your husband? Because it hurt so much then, when you lost him?” Tears were coursing down her cheeks and my heart went out to her, and I knew what she was going to say before she said it. “Because my marriage isn’t that great, and I’m scared if I make it better, if we get closer, I’d be afraid to lose him.”

“I am never sorry for those last five and a half years since his cancer. I treasure those years.”

“You aren’t sorry?”

“Never.  I am so grateful I had that. Some people live their whole life without experiencing love like that.” She nodded her head a little.

“It isn’t like we are headed for divorce or anything,” she confided, “But I’m not happy. I don’t think he even knows there is anything wrong.”

“David didn’t either,” I smiled, and I wanted to hug her, knowing that particular pain of feeling alone in a marriage. “But I’d known our union wasn’t something to celebrate on our 25th wedding anniversary. When David saw what our relationship was like, after cancer, he realized what it could have been all along. I wish I had the answer for you, how to make your marriage like that right now, without cancer, because David and I always wished we hadn’t waited to make our relationship like that.  If I had been the kind of wife I was during and after his cancer, maybe it would have been. I rubbed his feet during cancer.” I saw her face change then, as if she was confused.

“For 27 years of marriage, I’d never touched my husband’s feet.” I went on to explain. “One evening, after a long day of treatments and doctor’s appointments, I knew he was exhausted, mentally and physically, and I wondered what I could possibly do to help. I knelt down in front of him and took off his shoes and socks and began rubbing his feet with alcohol. His body stiffened and he asked, ‘What? Do my feet stink?’ I felt like crying. He couldn’t imagine that I would care enough about him to rub or wash his feet! He relaxed when I told him I just wanted to make him feel better and the look on his face then practically broke my heart. He was so grateful. So… content. What if I’d always treated him as though I cherished him? It was all he needed or wanted; to be loved. And that is what we did for each other after cancer; we truly cherished each other.”

Now I was nearly crying too. I’d had that, and lost it when David died.

I can still see the image of that woman’s face; the raw yearning for the same.

As I related last night’s dream to my 15-year old daughter this morning, I began crying again. “Even in my dream, I didn’t get to hug him,” I lamented, and she hugged me. She was leaving this morning, on a mission trip to West Virginia, a trip her Dad had been so excited about for her.

As I reflect on what I did have with David, the germ of an idea that was planted in me at the Write-to-Publish conference grew a little; if I write our story, the story of a marriage and a journey of faith and love, then maybe, just maybe, I can help other women, like my new friend from yesterday, find true love in their relationship.

Do you know what we should do, David?  Do you know what we should do? We should write a book together; a true story, a journey of faith and love.

A prayer for today;

“Dear Lord, I am praying this morning for my new friend, that she might find fulfillment in her marriage. I ask for help for all the women and men who are feeling alone in their marriage today, that they might find their way back to their partners and experience the fullness of love that you designed the union to be. Thank you, Lord, for the love you allowed me to experience with David.”

Author:

Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Certified grief counselor and Senior Service librarian for the James Kennedy Public library. Popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing, couponing, utilizing your creativity in everyday life, and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015. Grief journal to be released in 2018.

4 thoughts on “Following A Dream

  1. Mary, what a great and encouraging idea!!! My marriage has grown a lot in the last year but I know we have a long ways to go. You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story!! I look forward to seeing more that you write about your beautiful(but not perfect) marriage to David.

  2. Hi Mary! I met you at WTP in Wheaton. (I regret not being able to tell you I would not be there the last day.) I was so glad I met you the first night in the critique group. That opened several different times for us to talk – me about my son’s death in ’05 and you and your beloved David’s death and our shared, ‘unasked for’ journey of grief that we walk.
    I was out of town for 2 weeks and I’m glad to contact you now. I’m praying for healing for Jacob and God’s comfort for you and your family but your daughter Abby, especially.

    1. Mary Ann, I hope we can keep in touch. I just got back from yet another writer’s conference. Wonderful, but I need some quiet, peaceful time to contemplate all I’ve learned.

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