July 14, 2020
Remembering Those Vows When the Lights Go Out
Some people say the death of a child puts an enormous amount of stress on a marriage... I'd say "Some People" are right. How can it not put stress on a marriage? Remember, we don't grieve the same... we don't react the same... there are so many events that transpire after the death of a child, and those events can cause stress. So, I'd have to agree with "those people!"
However as we go through our personal grief, it is so good to know that we can grow into our new normal without the marriage becoming completely frayed. I know there are some people who may read this, and perhaps your marriage was not saved. First of all, I am so sorry. I cannot imagine the extra stress, guilt, and loneliness you must have endured, not to mention your grief. I pray for restoration in your life... in your heart... and in your relationships.
Ray and I have been married for 33 years, and 22 of those since Andrew's death. I will not lie to you. We have had some rough days, individually... and as a couple. But I remember telling Ray in the hospital the night of our accident that I would not allow our marriage to become a statistic for everyone to talk about in the future. (Well, they probably do talk about us... but not that we couldn't make it.)
Ray and I have a unique marriage... Lots of heavenly days... especially a lot of thunder and lightning... In many ways we are alike, but in many ways we are COMPLETELY different. Someone recently said we acted like a "young" couple... "newly" married. Ha! Well, I'm glad we were able to pull that one off. He likes pizza... I'm a pasta gal... He likes a darkened living spaces. I like lights... everywhere... He won't eat leftovers... I'll eat just about anything.
Despite our differences and our perpetual bantering to each other, there's not another human (or hooman as Clemens says) on earth I'd rather live my life with than Ray Odom. I would not have made it these 22 years without him. Yes, we are uniquely different, but we are also perfectly one.
I've not always given Ray the best of me, and for that I'm truly sorry. I'm thankful that he has been committed to me even when it would have been easier to walk away. I reminded myself often after Andrew's death that it was our love who created Andrew, and to give up on us would be like giving up on him to me.
I know every couple who has lost a child struggles, and to those couples who found the despair just simply too overwhelming, I wish I could just gather you every one up and give you the biggest hug. Because unless you have experienced that kind of pain in loss, you do not know how you would respond in any situation. I pray for God to show you that He still loves you oh so very much. You will heal. I pray for healing in your life; I pray for a balm for your soul.
If you are married, and you feel like you are hanging on by a thread, I pray for reinforcement. I pray for strength. Do not give up too easily. I encourage you to find professional and/or Christian counsel. So much has already been taken from you. And the lights are out. It's hard enough to navigate through a marriage when the lights are on, not to mention when your vision is so darkened by death. I pray for you! I don't know you by name, but I know you are there.
Reverend Tommy Bates wrote a song, "Somebody Out There," and it came to my mind as I wrote this. The chorus goes something like this:
Oh there's Somebody out there - arms open wide
who longs to embrace you, wipe the tears from your eyes
He's hope for the hopeless.
He'll carry the burdens you bear
When you don't have a prayer, there's Somebody out there.
Jesus is His name...
There's Somebody out there!
Perchance your marriage is strained... There's Somebody out there!
Perhaps you are missing your child tonight... There's Somebody out there!
It could be that your marriage is beyond restitution... There's Somebody out there!
Maybe you feel completely alone... There's Somebody out there!
Jesus is there for you!
I am so thankful Ray and I have survived. And Jesus is the reason for it. The agnostics have come too late to tell me any differently. I know where my strength comes from... it comes from God, and God alone!
So my marriage tips... (I did write a book on this.)
1. Love your spouse; and hate discord in your marriage. Refuse to allow it to consume you. Never fall into the "blame" game.
2. Love your spouse; and hate anything that comes between the two of you. Do not allow your differences to divide you. Instead make your individual talents strengthen you as a couple.
3. Love your spouse; and hate it when feelings of depression cause you to withdraw from your spouse. God instituted the sacred marriage before any other relationship on earth. Count it just as sacred as He did. Protect it, even in your personal pain.
I am blessed to be in a marriage where I am loved; I do not take that for granted or lightly. God has blessed me greatly; Ray has put up with me courageously. We have both had to find our way through the dark path of grief. I'm thankful to still be holding his hand.
Much Love To You All!
To Be Continued!