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and pictures from her funeral

Sunday, February 22, 2009

In The Midst

Last night, Matthew and I had a talk. (Matthew is my husband.) We do this occasionally, as he is out of town most weeks for work, running his own business. I am at home, in this house, the place of Gretta's death; mostly alone, save my other children. After Matt and I catch up on the happenings of our week apart, we come together again. When all is done we talk. Last night we stayed up into the early morning. Much of the time was spent crying together. Our mutual grief stirred together like a soup, past the boiling point now, but still slowly simmering.

He shared with me his regrets, which were few, but the one thing that struck me long ago and I have wondered about it since Gretta's passing.

Matt wasn't ever a "baby guy". He was a child lover though and that was one thing that stuck out right from the time I met him. Of course I came with 2 children when he married me and so he had "courted" all of us right from the start. When I asked him if he wanted his own children, he stated matter of factly, "If I marry you, I will have 2 children and I always wanted 2-4, no more than that." He continued, "I really have a problem with diapers though, so I would be fine with just the two that we have now, who are already potty trained." (Jordi was just 5 and Mason was 3.)

Personally, I had always wanted a few children but that wasn't going to happen with my prior husband as he didn't really want any and I had pushed for a second after having the first accidentally. So I was up for a couple more. He agreed that a couple more was fine but that he wouldn't be participating much in the diaper duties because he just couldn't handle it. I, seeing how much time he spent with the kids I had, figured I would be willing to do most of the diapers and "gross stuff" that comes with babies. And so it went.....

When our two babies came along, first Russell and then 14 months later, Gretta; I noticed how Matthew was loving but not really hands on. I had mentioned to him often that I just couldn't believe his reluctance to run after the crying baby, bathe the babies or coddle them. He always said, "I like them better when I can interact with them and they with me". He always proved that to be true as he spent much time and still does with the kids, playing, teaching, outings, long talks, daily devotions, prayer and really goes over and above what most dads I know do. I mean, he will take all the kids to grocery store with a long list that I gave him, while I take a nap, and he will have fun doing it. Seriously, do you know a dad that does that?

I love babies. I really didn't mind being the only one to get up at night, (most nights that is), the only one doing "tub time", the only one changing diapers, making bottles, you know, the usual. I can still recall with warmth, those middle of the night, dog-tired wakenings, just looking at that little life, nursing and watching the small expressions on the face of my little angel. The first smiles, the closeness, the nuturing, that little body writhing around, it's just precious. So most of the time, I didn't really care that Matt wasn't very involved.

So last night Matt says, "My only regret is that I didn't spend enough time with Gretta while she was here." I respond, "You mean because you weren't all that crazy about babies and the baby stuff?"
"Yes." He said.
"I wondered about that." I said.
"I always thought I would have that time, you know what I mean, when she was older, but I didn't know I would only have her for two years." He said.

We cried together. He rubbed my back as I sobbed. I looked at him lovingly, regretting the past for him.

"I noticed that you really love babies now," I said, "I notice you hold them all the time and offer to hold and care for your niece, Danika, all the time. Sometimes it makes me sad how willing you are now, because you weren't when our kids were tiny."
"I know", he said, "but I won't let that stop me now, from being different, I want to play with the little ones now, more than ever. I have to." With tear rolling down his face, he admitted this to me and even though I didn't need to for me, I forgave him, for him.

It wasn't a breakthrough or anything, this conversation between us. It was the unspoken. What we both already knew, but had never put into words. It was good to say it. My angst for his pain. Finally, after I had blown my nose the 20th time I said...
"I was happy that Gretta didn't die until she was over the age of two, because if she had been taken earlier, I'm not sure you would have shared my deep loss. I wasn't sure that you would have loved her the way I did."
"Yes." He said. "So am I."

2 comments:

ben and erin said...

so many times i think a man's grief gets overlooked because they're the man. you know, the STRONG one. i'm sorry to say that i haven't really prayed for matt. i think of you so often, lesley, and pray for you, but i guess i've been overlooking the grief of the rest of your family. i can't imagine what you're all going through, but to add the guilt of not spending enough time with your baby girl must weigh heavy on matt's heart. hang on to the memories, not the regrets.

praying for you all.

Anonymous said...

Love you Sister,. I rarely come to your blog cause its just heart wrenching. The tears just stream down my cheeks. Oh how I miss Our Precious little girl.