Patrick paced the room, not really seeing anything in it. His mind and his thoughts were a million miles away. Or at least that is how the subject felt, a million miles away.
Leah was struggling. He knew she was. He knew he was. But it wasn’t about him and he knew that as well. But how could he explain that to her? How could he explain he knew and cared when all she wanted to do was not listen? How could he keep anything he said and did from hurting her?
Jennifer had been in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices and counseling centers. And none of it seemed to have much, if any, effect. She was still up and down, she was still irrational, she was still sick. And nothing Patrick could do would change that.
“She just has to want to get better,” one such counselor had told them.
‘Yeah, no duh,’ Patrick thought. But how the heck do you help her want that, if she didn’t want it. It was a sickness that feed itself over and over again. As long as she didn’t want to get better, she wouldn’t. And as long as she didn’t get better, she didn’t want to. It was a vicious circle that reached out and sucked Leah deep within its downward spiral.
“What about us?” The counselors and doctors and therapists and anyone else who cared to put in their two cents didn’t really seem to have an answer for that. And neither did he.
What about us, he absently thought.
“I’m tired of being talked to that way,” Leah had burst out, barely keeping the strain from her voice. “I’m tired of being hurt and no one caring.”
He had tried to explain it to her. He tried to tell her that he cared and that he was feeling all this, too. But she didn’t want to listen, her pain was too deep for him to get the words through, to get the love through.
Did it end here? He didn’t want it to end. He wanted to keep loving her until the gates opened and let them spend eternity together, as they had planned.
“But plans don’t often work out,” she’d said. “Things change, people change. You’ve never spoken to me this way before. I’ve been through this kind of marriage and I don’t want to repeat that experience.”
“Do you want me to leave?”
“You’ve been looking for any excuse to leave. I don’t blame you. Go if you want.”
Leah’s words stung. He didn’t want to leave. But should he stay if it was going to destroy them both if he stayed.
“If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, it was not meant to be.”
Patrick hated sayings that people used to solve any problems. He couldn’t even remember who had said that, but he’d bet it was someone’s friend who just didn’t know what to say about a personal relationship in jeopardy.
If you love something . . .someone, then you sure as heck shouldn’t let them go. You should hold on tight. Not by smothering them, but by understanding that they just need the lifeline. That they just needed you to be there.
So Patrick stayed. But anything he said or did was being twisted and turned back at him. If he stayed out of it, he was wrong. If he got involved, he was wrong. If he said something that even sounded angry or disappointed or disinterested or any number of other things that he just didn’t mean, they were used as daggers and shields against him.
And Jennifer didn’t do much better. She hated him. She despised him. She didn’t want him around but was afraid he’d leave.
What should he do? What could he do?
His eyes dropped to the desk and spied the book there. It was black leather bound and in it’s own zippered case. Leah had given it to him, and of all the things he treasured from her, this was one of his two favorites. The first being the ring on his finger.
He reached down, opened the case and began to read.
“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Closing his eyes, a single tear formed and ran down his cheek.
“Lord, I know we’ve had our rocky times, you and I,” Patrick spoke in a soft, sad voice. “I don’t always speak well of you, nor of your plans for us. But you know what is in my heart more than anyone. I know this too you shall see us through. But it is hard. Hard to endure, hard to know what we should do. I love her so much. I love them both so much. I just don’t always have the words to express it, or the patience to show it. I’m simply human, full of human faults and frailties. But I trust in you, Lord God. And I know you shall be my refuge and my fortress. I just ask you give me the strength and wisdom to see that your will be done here on Earth. Let me be the light of your love in the darkness of this despair. I pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ.”
There was no immediate answer, but Patrick knew that wasn’t always His way.