In my twenties I never thought much about life and what it held for me. Every day the sun rose I tried my hardest to earn the respect of those around me. At that age you just want to be heard. Your ideas, thoughts, designs, you just want to be equal with those around you. To show the world that you are not just another dumb kid. Of course not helping matters much my looks were far younger than my age, therefor anything that came from my mouth was treated with kid gloves, quite literally.
Some life changes came and into my thirties a family was started, a career blossoming and again I yearned to be heard. The problem? I was the older guy as most in my profession started young and had already promoted to mid-level or even officer ranks. During that time I learned about fatherhood, gained some maturity and just when things started looking my way I also learned a lot about death. It was a challenging time and still no one was listening.
Welcoming my forties, our family grew, my inner child faded away as motorcycles, boats and fishing tournaments slid to the wayside for coaching baseball, and raising/riding horses. Trips to Haiti for humanitarian reason filled our summers, helping us grow as human beings and rodeo soon dominated our lives. For once in a really long time things felt as though they would look up, our family, especially myself could or would find contentment in life. Then came Leukemia, cancer, and a Bone Marrow Transplant. A very sick wife was struggling hard, fighting for survival and once again I found myself yearning to be heard.
This time it was different.
You see before, I longed to be taken seriously for whatever I may have learned along the way. Wishing those who I surrounded myself with would just listen, understand that maybe just once I actually did know something and could be thought of as equal or even a peer to someone new.
Over time I stopped yearning to be heard but instead chose to listen. Listening is one of the most important traits we can learn as a human being. Listening allows you the opportunity to feel empathy, compassion and love. Three of the best human characteristics we could possibly have or share with others. So I listened, and listened some more and I learned to love by not saying a thing. To empathize with those around me and show great compassion to those less fortunate than I. Listening gave me an opportunity to engage my brain instead of my mouth. Insecurity feeds a rapid fire mouth while silence often times shows great strength.
Now as I am but a few months away from my fifties I am yearning to be heard again.
My wife is struggling with all that has happened to her. She has been a pillar of strength for so many including myself. There is not a day or moment within the day I do not think about her. Alone, in her chair, or upstairs in bed, wondering, asking God why this happened to her. She has survived so much and yet she feels as though she has lost just as much as she gained. A woman who thrived in our barn, was an angel to so many children within a classroom setting and my best friend is still patiently waiting for things to get better. We are one year since chemo and one month away from her transplant. We are three weeks away from when she left the house for what was supposed to be at its worst no more than four months. It was eight months instead of struggling to survive. She is trying her hardest, but most days leave her incredibly exhausted and unable to move. She may have two good days and four really rough days. Her body is fighting her at every turn. She looks up and smiles at me but we’ve been together for 15 years and I can always tell when there is something hiding behind that smile. Some things she just can’t say, but my heart knows what they are because I have listened.
So to my wife I hope you can hear me because this is what I have to say.
I love you.
I have loved you since they very moment we kissed. It was a confusing time, a scary moment but an inner sense told me it was supposed to be.
There is something about your personality that is mesmerizing. Like staring into an oasis after a long hot journey across the sand. You are that safe comfortable place so needed after such long travels.
You haven’t changed; your caring shines from the inside of your soul. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t instantly feel comfortable around you.
You are the devil when you are angry. But if you weren’t my strong personality would roll right over you and that wouldn’t be good for anyone.
I could never imagine a day without you. Just like chocolate
We have four super fantastic pain in the ass children who love you! They are frustrating and amazing all at the same time. They also have no idea just how serious ALL of this has been and because of that they can be a bit selfish at times. But remember, they love you. They show it every day by not doing their chores, arguing with you about homework and treating you like its days of old where you would pick up after them.
I am scared to death but refuse to show it to you. You have enough to deal with emotionally other than dealing with my fears. This whole thing is so unnerving and yet watching you fight so hard, how could I ever tell you I am scared as well.
Quit worrying about what GvHD has done to your outside appearance. I know its difficult, and I understand you miss your old body but; I love you, the person who is you, it doesn’t matter to me what you think you look like because when I look into your eyes and the smile lines under those eyes relax for just a moment, you are there, whole, kind, caring, soft, understanding and as beautiful as always. I only see you..
I don’t know what the future holds for us, for you. I will not pretend I have the answers anymore. This whole thing sucks, it is painful, emotional and at times beyond comprehension. But I do know this; There is no one on this earth that I would rather be with. I am thankful every day that you chose me for a spouse. Yes it is hard taking care of everything without my partner in crime but I got it. I am doing the best that I can and the only reason I am doing so well is because of my love for you and my faith that God is watching and has a plan.
So please my dear wife ease your worried mind, have faith, look into my eyes and know I will always be by your side, helping you any way I can; Loving you and cherishing every moment we are together. Lean on me all you need, and rest when ever you want.
For every day is a glorious gift from God.
3 thoughts on “Can you hear me now?”
You are amazing, James. Your wife is the luckiest woman on earth. Your strength and love are inspiring! God bless and keep you all! ❤️
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WOW!! What an incredible testimony to your love and strength James! You and Jacy are both amazing and together you are such an inspiration. My daily thoughts and prayers are with both of you and your family. . Susan Joyce
James, I get both sides of your testimony here. Being a BC survivor with a messed up body I get this. My husband says the same words to me. I look in the mirror and see how cancer robbed me of a body I was at least ok with now the body I loathe. Facing reconstruction for a second time I wonder if I am just vain or do I deserve it. I sometimes cry when I put on my larger pants and get angry at myself for gaining this weight. Partial due to Meds partial due to less activity. Weight I had struggled so hard to get off only to see creep back I cry. Then the cycle of feeling guilty for crying or loathing myself as I am alive. The Meds worked I’m cancer free but not free of cancer remorse, shame, guilt, and frustrations. So…I get it. You are saying the right things as my Greg is but…it sucks. I’m sorry Jacy is still struggling and she is one of the reasons I keep fighting the negative talk and be thankful for what I am. I am the same on the inside. It this body is far from the same. Reconstruction is in June I still might not go through with it as I think and tell myself why bother will new breast really going to change my self hate?
You are an amazing husband as, is mine. Jacy and are lucky in that category for sure. Continue to be by her side but let me say “listen” it isn’t easy to accept the disfiguring effects cancer often has. Keep reassuring and maybe some day she will hear you as I hope to hear my Greg as well.
Hugs my “pen pal”