Five years ago, this day started just like any other. I got the boys up, fed them, and we did school or went to co-op since it was a Friday. We had lunch, took naps, played and watched TV. I fixed dinner, gave them baths, then put them to bed. One thing that was a little different, was that I helped Josh pack to go on a Scout camping trip with Gaga, and they left that afternoon. Other than that, it seemed a normal day. I had no idea of the arrow that was about to shatter my life.
My husband didn’t come home that night. It wasn’t unusual for him to be out late, because as a deputy sheriff he often worked overtime, but it was unusual for him to not come home at all. I vaguely remember waking very early in the morning and realizing he wasn’t home. I probably tried to page him and call his cell. I don’t even remember now if I actually talked to him, or worried about his safety the rest of the early morning. He finally came home the next day, and after loving on our two littlest boys, he told me he needed to talk to me.
Strange the things you remember about tragedy. I remember him commenting on the holes in my socks, and telling me I really needed to get some new ones. Then he told me he was moving out. Leaving. He was confused, he said; didn’t know what he wanted; didn’t know if he wanted to be married any longer. His “confusion” went on for a couple of weeks, as I sat confused about where he was during that time, and about what had gone wrong. He had been very distant for about six months, but nothing that indicated a real problem. I had asked him repeatedly if there was anything wrong, but he had said it was just problems at work, and I had no reason to suspect anything else.
The truth was, he had gotten involved with someone else and was moving in with her. No one—his friends, his co-workers, his family—believed it initially when I told them. He “was not the kind of guy who did that.” I remember from that February 16th, and from the weeks after, the tight knot in my stomach that kept me from eating for three solid months (an effective diet, but not one I recommend!). I remember night after night fighting off images of him and her together and crying until I had no more tears to cry. I remember having to keep music running all through the night so I could sleep at all, and then waking up from fitful sleep to cry some more and to fall on the floor and pray. I remember wallowing in the Psalms, crying through them and praying them to God. Life was a fog—I went from one thing to another without any real awareness of what was going on.
I also remember God’s faithfulness. He put so many people in my life—women who called me, listened to me, cried with me. He put very wise pastors in my life to direct my decisions, but who also listened to me and evaluated my choices not based on their own opinions as fathers and husbands and men, but on God’s Word. They gave me the blessing to do some very risky things as I prayed and hoped God would turn my wayward husband around. He gave me a Christian lawyer who helped me understand all the options, and tried to help me protect myself, and preserve my marriage at the same time. I remember nights when God did nothing but whisper to me in the sad darkness, and move in close enough that I could almost feel Him there. I’ve not felt Him like that since. I remember how God helped my father to care for the boys, and how He enabled us to get our school done in spite of my distracted and distraught condition.
I have been through many sad and difficult things. I’ve nearly lost my life and a baby in childbirth. My mother and father both died at different times unexpectedly at home. But the worst thing I have been through was being abandoned . . . cast away . . . by my dear husband. It happened five years ago tomorrow, but the pain and scars are still there today. They are not as visible as they were initially, or in past years, but they still hurt and make life hard. I’m not sure I will ever recover from them, but I’m not sure I want to either.
Going through my separation and divorce changed my life forever. I will never be the same. At times, I am aware that I am searching—that I am on a quest to find that one thing that can relieve the pain and remove the scars. I have never found it, nor will I. But then I have moments of clarity, and I can almost glimpse how God might use this, and I even experience a touch of excitement to see how He will redeem my tears. One of the things I have prayed is that God would never let me forget that experience. As confusing and disappointing and painful as that experience was, I have discovered since then how much more pain and suffering exists in the world than I ever realized. Oh, I knew there were bad things out there, but they always happened to someone else. Little did I know they were happening all around me, to people just like me. I want to be used to relieve a little of the suffering of others. I want God to always keep me aware of the suffering of others, and I always want to have the inconvenience of being called upon to seek ways to help those experiencing it.
Five years ago my life changed forever. And God used it to change me and make me fit for His service.