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.