It was a rough weekend at our house. Our son, whom I’ll give the pseudonym of Titus, has been really wound up ever since his surgery last week. It was like he was on overdrive all weekend–throwing, hitting, screaming–despite all our efforts at calming or disciplining him. Our daughter, whom I’ll give the pseudonym of Abigail, has not felt well all weekend. When she is at her worst, she is whiny and cries at the proverbial drop of a hat. Well, you guessed it, due to her feeling badly, she was whiny all weekend.
Jeremiah doesn’t deal well with all the kids’ drama. He does not have younger siblings and was not around children much at all until we had our own. He is a very kind, generous man, who loves the kids dearly and coddles them, but when he has done everything he can to calm the child and the child is still crying or screaming, he shuts down.
I, on the other hand, have been around children all of my life. I have siblings that are significantly younger than I, I have several nieces and nephews that have not yet reached “double digits,” and I have worked with children in various venues for as long as I can remember. I am usually the more level-headed parent when it comes to these frustrating times with our children, but even I felt overwhelmed this weekend having both kids “at their worst” at the same time.
Jeremiah ended up retreating to our room and sleeping much of the weekend, which made me feel abandoned and upset. After all, they’re his children, too, and shouldn’t he help and support me when the kids are so needy? This issue is a long-standing one in our relationship.
Additionally, my primary Love Language (if you’re not familiar with the concept, you can learn more here) is quality time. Quality time doesn’t even register on the LL quiz for Jeremiah. He’s a gifts kind of guy. He wants to “take care of” me by buying me things that will help me or make me feel good. (Don’t get me wrong–I enjoy gifts, but they don’t communicate love to me in the way I truly need.) He doesn’t “get” my need for face time with him at all! Although I’ve tried to explain it to him over and over again in various ways, he still doesn’t really know how to give me the one-on-one, turn-off-the-electronics-and-look-at-me time that I need so badly from him.
So, in summary, Titus and Abigail were grumpy, which made Jeremiah grumpy, which, in turn, made me grumpy. It was a grumpy weekend for all.
When my frustration boiled over, I told Jeremiah that his actions (or maybe more accurately “inaction”) had made me feel abandoned and unloved. Of course, that conversation didn’t go over well, and we ended up fighting. He just saw my requests for time with him and help from him as my being “needy.”
Later, in a very random turn of events, I came into the dining room where he was sitting, to find him sobbing. Sobbing! I’ve only seen my man cry maybe once or twice, if that, and now he’s sitting at the dining table sobbing? I didn’t say anything, I just walked up behind him and put my arms around him. Still sobbing, he played a song for me that he had just been listening to. He spoke, but I didn’t understand him through his sobs. I thought he was upset about his dad’s passing (almost a decade ago), because sometimes it just hits him how much he misses his daddy. As the song played, he held my cheek against his cheek in an awkward hug from behind, and I eventually began to understand that he was crying for me.
He said that the words of this song were for me from him. He wanted me to understand how much he loved me and how hard it would be for him if I passed away. He was sobbing just thinking about the possibility that one day he would have to live without me. When I began to understand what he was saying, I sobbed too.
He said that if I died, he would “grieve himself to death.” He told me that if he passed before I did, that every time I looked at a sunset, I should remember that he was watching me from the other side of that sunset. He said, “Please know that, whatever happens, I love you. Please don’t have any hatred in your heart toward me.”
I held him, and said, “I could never hate you, J. Even when we argue or have tough times, I never, ever hate you. I love you so much that it hurts.”
Even in the midst of our terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad weekend, this ten minute exchange shone as a reminder of our love for each other. The memory of this crazy weekend will be fleeting; this memory of his sobbing as an expression of love for me I will cherish forever, especially if the unthinkable should ever happen.
Here is the video of the song that started the whole conversation: Beyond the Sunset.