Closer Than Ever

My Higher Power has a knack of taking the worst possible thing, like my alcoholism, and making something beautiful out of it.

My wife lost her almost twenty-year battle with cancer recently after a year-long struggle that included two major surgeries, seventy-seven total days in hospital, seven trips to the ER, countless procedures and an ineffective clinical trial. Since we were far from home and her parents, I served as her primary care-giver for most of this time. God showed up in my life more intensely, more lovingly during this past year than ever before.

I learned how to be a stand-up guy in Alcoholics Anonymous. Instead of running away, I showed up every day for her, twenty-four and seven, I did the next indicated thing and stayed out of results. I lived in the present moment because tomorrow didn’t exist. It was the worst when she suffered, either from an uncontrollable pain spike or when we received news that nothing was working. Looking back I can see God was right there in the middle of those darkest moments.

Our love for each other grew dramatically during those last few months. We prayed together every night holding hands just before turning out the light. She prayed to her beloved Jesus and I prayed to the God I discovered in Alcoholics Anonymous -- One and the same. We prayed for others, we prayed for healing, but mostly we gave thanks for the day we had just spent together. Now, every moment was precious.

I had to be strong, but often I didn't feel strong. I couldn't let her know I was afraid.  Our condo was loaded with all kinds of strong pain meds, but I was never once tempted. I was connected to something much more powerful. When fear and exhaustion tried to have their way with me, the strength to make it through another day magically showed up.  God appeared as loving friends, family members, and caring nurses and doctors.  Neither of us ever once gave up, but both of us slowly loosened our grip.

I feel closer to my HP than ever before, closer to my humanity and closer to the truth of what I am. I have been opened up to deeper emotions than I’ve ever felt. Surely I grieve. There’s a hole in my heart that will never fully heal. I miss her smiling happy face, but I know she hasn’t really gone anywhere. She’s just in the next room.