Twelve Months to Heal a Marriage
I realized that Tom had always been this way, attuned to his family. It was the reason he was so dependable—what I, in my worst moments, had derided as boring. Now I couldn’t help wondering, what if steadiness was as much a sign of love as passion?
I thought back to my early days in Chicago. All those big-city dreams I’d had. But maybe I hadn’t walked out on those dreams. Maybe I’d made the right decision going back to Des Moines. I had to admit, the guys I’d met in Chicago were mostly shallow and self-involved, on the make.
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Of course, Tom wasn’t perfect either. Like me, he’d let his disappointment in our marriage slide into grasping at expensive houses and country-club dinners, hoping they would somehow fill the space between us. That’s part of why we moved from Des Moines to Houston and Tom took this new job.
We’d wanted a more godly way of life. Actually, it was mostly Tom who wanted that. He’d sought out this new job, this new city, in a last bid to save our marriage. He gave up only when he concluded I didn’t share his commitment.
But was that still true? Was I really ready to let him go just because he didn’t measure up to my naïve, youthful expectations? Compared with this fight against cancer, all my complaints seemed so petty. But where did we go from here?
Chemo lasted six months. I made it through the tests and surgeries. That November, two days after Thanksgiving, Tom and I were sitting quietly on the back patio, trying not to think about my prognosis.
I’d undergone the final surgery and biopsy just before the holiday. We figured we’d get the results after the weekend. But for now I felt something I hadn’t in a long time—comfortable. I was just sitting here comfortably with my husband. As if some great battle was over.
The phone rang. Startled, I picked it up. It took me a moment to register the doctor’s words: “You’re cancer-free, Amy. You’ve made a remarkable recovery.”
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I put the phone down in a tearful daze and told Tom. He didn’t leap to his feet in joy and relief. He didn’t cry. Of course not. That’s not Tom.
Instead he stood up, walked over to me and gathered me in his arms. He held me like that for a long, long time, as if I were a precious object he’d nearly lost and now had found again. I could feel his heart beating against my chest and his arms tight around me, trembling slightly, refusing to let me go.
Suddenly I knew with blinding clarity. This man loved me. He showed his love in his own way. And yes, I loved him. I always had. His steadiness and his devotion had seen us through this disease. Cancer hadn’t killed me. It hadn’t killed our marriage. It had, in a way possible only with God, healed us.
I thought back to that awful day when I escaped the house and went for a walk in the park. Wait one year. With a start I realized it was exactly one year, almost to the day, since God gave me those life-saving words.
He knew then what I didn’t. That at my moment of greatest need, Tom would be there to love me and to hold me up. And that I, fighting for my life, would at last see my husband with unclouded eyes.
Tom pulled back to gaze at me. “I knew you could do it,” he said. “You are so strong, Amy. I love you.”
“I love you too,” I said. And I meant it. More than ever.
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