It’s hard to be a stepdad when your wife’s child died. But I can’t help but to wonder if it’s even harder to be a loving husband.
Last week, about a week before we were scheduled to leave for a Hocking Hills Christmas, I was feeling down. It doesn’t matter how many years it’s been. Drey’s my boy. There’s a Drey-sized hole in my heart and nothing can fill it.
I told Robbie I was feeling anxious about Christmas this year. He muted the TV and looked at me. I told him I was sad – more sad than the past few Christmas’s – and I was afraid I was going to cry while we were gone. My husband is a thinker… he doesn’t usually just spit out a response. But this time he did. He looked at me quizzically and said, “So?” I couldn’t have asked for a more loving response.
I can’t fully understand what it’s like to walk in his shoes. I just know what it’s like to be the recipient of his ongoing gentleness and his unselfish love.
Robbie has stood by me, held my hand, sat in silence, and on occasion he’s cried with me over these past several years. He’s never expressed that he was tired of me or tired of that look I’d have on my face as I watched him come in the back door from work. He’s never gotten frustrated when my light hearted laughter quickly turned to silence after a song, a word, or a smell sent me into a sudden abyss of sorrow.
Doing “normal” things felt wrong on every level after Drey died. Time was standing still for me. I wanted a do-over so bad. I didn’t want to move forward. The first time we were intimate after Drey had died, Robbie held me while I sobbed. (No… the sex wasn’t bad. Just sayin). I cried out to God often – in ALL circumstances. I cried until I gagged. Robbie was able to stand by me and make me feel safe – in ALL circumstances. He didn’t try to fix me. He knew there were no words. He knew he was helpless to make things better.
We would go out to eat and I would have my head down the entire time. I would cry through the meal. He sat silently – no doubt praying without ceasing – again and again. He sat in sorrow with me.
Robbie patiently supported me even as I was drawn to grieve with Drey’s dad. We spent our wedding anniversary driving all day to attend my ex’s dads funeral. Robbie never complained.
Robbie navigated caring for David – we shared custody – after Drey died. David was just 13. Should he spend more time at his Moms or is it good for him to be around us even though I couldn’t stop crying? How could he best show his love and concern for David in front of me when I didn’t have Drey any more? How was Robbie going to be part of important events when I couldn’t bear to step foot in the school – the same school Drey had attended? He took David on a vacation – just the two of them. He attended football games and concerts alone. He attended David’s graduation with a friend from home church – not with me. He was never angry with me for not going. He was and still is so gentle with me.
So while I sit here in Hocking Hills on this strangely warm Christmas Day thinking of past Christmas’s, I’m also thanking God for Robbie. I thank God for caring for me through him. I don’t know how he does it – continues to care for me so patiently and unselfishly. I am truly blessed. I love you Robbie. Merry Christmas.