Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fresh Eyes

Last night I crawled into bed before 9 pm. Tony and I have been up the last three or four nights talking. Talking about our kids, his Leadville race, business, religion. Just the general things we discuss every night, only deeper and more expansive. I've had a string of several late nights, followed by very early mornings getting Rachel to dance, combined with one little two year old who has decided to wake up every few hours now that his 4 month old sibling is sleeping through the night. I was exhausted and grumpy.

Tony came in around 9:15 just as I was drifting off to sleep. He opened the blinds a bit, turned on a light or two and noisily slurped on his slurpee, happily chatting away with me about the TV show he thought I was watching. I snapped at him that I was trying to sleep, angry at his inconsideration. He quietly left the room and left me to my moodiness borne of sheer exhaustion.

He came to bed around 11:30 and I felt his warm hand on my cheek. When I stirred he held my hand. "Susan passed tonight." He whispered. And immediately my eyes were open trying to find his in the dark.

For months and months, we have watched our friend Elden tenderly care for his sweet wife Susan as she battled breast cancer. I have never witnessed a more beautiful love story unfold as together they courageously endured this most difficult of diseases with dignity, humor and uncommon determination. Together they worked to raise over $500,000 in donations to the LiveStrong organization, hoping that this money will one day help find a cure. They are both an inspiration to me in so many ways and I am overcome with sadness for them and their four brave children.

After Tony told me, I couldn't sleep for hours, trying to process what a huge loss this is for Elden and his family. I recognize that I am only human, but I was embarrassed that I had lost my temper with Tony over something so insignificant. Especially on that night when one we care about so deeply was sleeping alone in his bed for the first time, wishing he could talk with her, hold her hand, touch her cheek as she slept.

Surviving six years of infertility has given me a profound sense of gratitude for my four incredible children. I take more time with them. I am more patient with them, more present in the day to day. Specifically, I am filled with wonder that I am blessed with their tender care, that I have the honor and privilege of being their mother.

Susan's passing brought these same feelings to my heart about my sweet husband. How often I take him for granted and simply expect that he will take care of all of us. He is such a blessing in my life and all too often I fail to tell him how incredibly lucky I feel to be his wife. There isn't anything he wouldn't do for me if I but ask. He supports me in all that I want to do. He validates my feelings. He listens to me and cheers me on. He is quite simply my best friend. Most importantly, he makes me feel safe. I trust him without question and know he would never do anything to hurt me or our children. I have never met a more loyal person.

As I watched him sleep this morning, I saw him with fresh eyes. After fifteen years, he still makes my heart race. He still makes me laugh. He makes our life together work. I am so grateful that he belongs to me and that we are headed in the same direction...together.

And I am grateful for the Nelson's. For sharing so much of their story with us so that we might be reminded of the treasures found within our own home. On his blog, Elden told us to "Fight Like Susan" and I know he intended those words to represent her incredible fight with Cancer. But for me today, Fighting Like Susan means never wasting another day Fighting or Angry with my spouse. Life is too short and he is too important to me.


Whitney said...

Jilly-thank you for putting so simply the words I always need to hear!

cindy said...

What beautiful words to remind me what is truly important in life...I tend to forget more often than I should.

tibiker said...

Once again, great post Jilly. You have a knack for expressing how many of us feel in situations like this.

kerri said...

I don't even know what to say?
But... I wanted you to know I was here.
Thank you!

Laurel said...

i love this so much.
thanks for sharing what's in your heart.

The Neilson Family said...

That is soo sad. Thank you for opening my eyes. We really can get caught up in our own trials and forget the big picture. I love reading your pots they are very inspirational.

Mindy said...

That was such a sweet post. Our mother had breast cancer last year, and so it strikes a tender cord in my heart. Life is too short not to appreciate those we love.

Just in case you are wondering who on earth I am...I saw your comment on The Sisters' Cafe and I was curious who took Mel's class years ago. Your family looks wonderful.