My husband, Adam, planned the sweetest Valentine’s Getaway for us. We were supposed to stay the night in a quaint neighboring town. My parents were going to keep the kids and we would be able to enjoy time alone. Time to talk about everything and nothing. To fully enjoy a quiet meal and recharging after what has felt like an intense start to a new year. Between my travels for work, the first Covid diagnosis in our house, and a consuming work situation for him, we have been maxed out. It was time to getaway and refresh together.
But 3:30 am, on the day we were supposed to leave, I woke to significant lower abdominal pain. It was radiating from front to back on my right side. I got a heating pad, took Tylenol, and hoped for relief. I managed to toss and turn in bed, with the help of that heating pad, and drift in and out of sleep. However, by 6:00 am I knew something was really wrong. I was repeatedly vomiting from pain and nothing was helping take the edge off of it. I knew I needed serious help.
At the ER, they got my pain mostly under control while also scanning and seeking a diagnosis. Turns out, I had a very large ovarian cyst and torsion (twisting). Meaning, it was a surgical emergency to fix, in order to restore blood flow, and save my organ. No wonder the pain was excruciating! Before noon, I was entering the operating room to have surgery, remove the cyst, and fix the torsion.
This was Not the Plan
It is so surreal that I went to bed on Friday planning to wake up and pack for our night away and instead was preparing to enter a surgery bay. This was not the weekend we had in mind. While our special evening away may not have happened, the amount of love I felt from Adam was tremendous.
Adam is so good at being my rock and my steady when the world around me feels out of control. He remains calm and knows how to do the next right thing, even when I’m overwhelmed by all the things. Adam can control his mind and not get ahead of himself or us – he refuses to play the exhausting and wasteful “what if” game. He is good at loving in the hard places. I admire these qualities of his so much!
What does love look like?
As I sat in the hospital bed, and glanced over at Adam, I thought about how THIS is love. Love cannot be simplified to chocolates and roses. It doesn’t always show up as a night out and a delicious dinner. Love can be messy.
Love is in the ER at 7am when your wife is in excruciating pain, begging for relief and you gently acknowledge the pain, while remaining ever calm.
Love is in the recovery room when she wakes up from surgery, confused and bleary eyed, and you ask if she finally feels better. Then you smile when she says yes.
Love in the hours to come when you hold her elbow, escorting her inside the house, to begin recovery.
Love is in the way you bring pain medicine, without having to be asked, because you know it is time.
This is what love is. This is what love does. It shows up in the trenches. The yucky parts when we are scared and in pain. Or when we aren’t wearing makeup and are in oversized sweats. Or, are recovering from surgery wrapped in gauze and managing pain.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want that night out on the town. Dressed up and carefree. But those moments of delight wouldn’t be the same if our love was one-dimensional and only showed up in happy, clean, and colorful places. Our love is most real because of how it shows up in the hard places. The places we don’t want to go nor do we want to be. Real love doesn’t shy away from those moments but finds a way to face them head on.
Will you love in the trenches?
My hope and prayer for you is that you will both love this way and be loved this way.
That you will enter into hard places for the people you hold in your heart. Yes, your significant other but also your friends, children, and other family members. I hope you will go all the way in, even if sometimes it hurts, because you know that type of love is the most beautiful. It is live-giving love.
Simultaneously, I hope that you can be vulnerable enough to allow others to love you when you are in pain – physical or emotional – and in need of help. It is unnerving to allow others to see us at our absolute worst, but there is beauty in the quiet acceptance of those moments and willingness to be seen. Not seen for the highlight reel we share on Instagram – but seen because we are fundamentally enough. At our core, our existence is simply enough.
So go on, love well and be loved well. In the shiny places and in the trenches.