• Kalen Clark

Romance in the Time of Sickness

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

I came to the hospital for one of my usual evening visits. When I walked in the room, Dad was propped up and watching the Discovery channel and I sat down my things and walked over to hug and kiss him.

"Missed you. How are you feeling?"

My dad was dying and we didn't know it. He'd been battling a septic infection from a sick gallbladder. We expected him to make it, but after a few months of fighting hard, he let go. He was only 62.

"I'm okay today, my belly is a little upset. But Billy came to see me and we ate lunch together for a while."

"Well, how nice! I was going to ask if he wanted to come with me this weekend."

"Honey, he visits quite a bit."

I paused and felt my breath catch in my chest. My eyes welled up.

I'd left the house as soon as Billy got off work, in a hurried rush and without even a hug or a kiss. I'd been homeschooling the children all day, everything was a mess, and I was spending a few hours every night with Dad. We didn't have much time to chat in this season, and when we did, it was usually me venting frustrations or fears.

In all of that, Billy had never told me how often he was visiting my Dad. I knew he loved him and was worried, but also accepted his days at work were packed with meetings and support tickets. He could go with me on weekends, I thought.

But he was already going on his own. He was doing it because he loved him. Because he wanted him to get better, just like me. And I had never even slowed down enough to ask how all of this was affecting him.

A couple months later, when it was Billy's turn to say goodbye, he leaned over and told Dad one thing... "I'll take care of your girl."

I've been married for what will be 12 years this August. As a romantic, it can be hard to feel the transition of love that gradually happens during marriage. It can be easy to point out flaws and shortcomings... all of the disappointments as new, passionate love becomes settled into something else.

But I was changed in many ways through Dad's passing. One of those ways was that my marriage grew stronger. I learned to appreciate Billy differently, and didn't dwell long on missed expectations any more.

In my conversation with Dad that day, I was reminded that my husband loves me in quiet ways sometimes. But those quiet ways can be much bigger than a handwritten love note or an extravagantly planned date night. Those quiet, simple sacrifices can sustain us, if we pause long enough to appreciate them.

My dad trusted and adored Billy. He knew I had found someone loyal to walk with me through this painful, beautiful life. He knew I had found someone that loves me.

And I'm going to love him back the best I can, for as long as we both shall live.


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