I admit it.
I thought they were a few words from God, whispered by His Spirit into my mind:
I thought that they implied somehow that I would, in fact, be married to Angi for the rest of my life.
That I would go first, because she was the stronger and smarter and sweeter and more spiritual of the two of us and she would be able to handle everything better without me than I ever could without her.
The pain. The loss. The alone-ness.
There was no second phrase, “if she outlives you.”
Or “until she succumbs to pancreatic cancer.”
I feel a little betrayed. Because the implication seemed so clear.
And those words 23 years ago (and a little more) proved to be so very prophetically true.
I was happy. Blissfully happy. Gloriously happy. Sometimes ridiculously happy.
But that’s not what the words actually said; those words that I heard in my mind and heart in that once-and-once-only-in-a-lifetime moment when I thought I heard God.
“You could ….”
I could have chosen to be unhappy anyway, married to the sweetest person God ever put in the path of anyone ever.
I could have decided to hurt and betray her and end our marriage in divorce and wound our children and friends and family and church – not that it was ever a temptation, ever.
The point is, those were possibilities; things I could have done, among many other things that I could have chosen.
And she could have chosen. Not that it was ever in Angi’s nature to choose anything that didn’t, to the best of her ability, strengthen our marriage and benefit our kids and honor God.
And He could have chosen something else.
He did. He chose to let His Son take her home, long before I was ready, long before we had enjoyed the retirement years we had just begun to talk about, and just before our kids are fully though nearly grown.
That’s what I’m beginning to realize, and what I’m trying not to feel betrayed about.
What I heard in my heart all those years ago was an opportunity.
A chance to do-over, since my first marriage failed.
A choice that I could make to be happy with the once-and-only-once-in-a-lifetime Angela Laird.
That’s what I chose.
The hard part is choosing the same thing now, without her in the years ahead that we had envisioned and hoped for and had begun to plan for.
Those words were not a guarantee, implied or expressed.
They were an opportunity.
I don’t have to hear them whispered into my mind again to know that I have the same opportunity now that I did then.
Or to know that, in that way, you and I are no differently blessed.
I could be happy.
You could be happy.
Did I hear those words from God?
In this life, I may never know.
I only know that they were true.