When he opened the door to me, just over five years ago, I knew by the sickly sheen of his skin: he was beyond nervous. He took a couple steps back and asked: "How do I look?" and the honest truth was that he was much larger than when I'd last seen him, and, well, green. His eyes, though, were the same, and I still loved him, so I opted to answer with a kiss.
We talked non-stop, that weekend, and I feel a little like Larry Boy in saying as much, but we laughed; we cried; it moved me. He talked about an injury he'd sustained while on a cruise 6-7 months earlier. He was fairly fresh out the wheelchair, and he was down well over a hundred pounds. When he showed me a photo of himself from before the fall, I cried; I couldn't believe he'd been that out of control. He looked at me, though, with bright eyes and promised: it was behind him. He wasn't going back.
We didn't have sex that weekend but slept side-by-side, and he rubbed my back until I fell asleep. We went to church together and prayed together, and it makes my eyes well up to remember how he felt like home to me, and when I say that I mean I'd been far from home: desperate, broken, lonely, and weary, and he pushed wide the door to shining home. He made me feel known and understood and beloved. I begged him not to let me go again.
So he didn't. Instead, he rearranged every single thing in his life to marry and move to me three months later. He lost even more weight for our wedding, and we could feel God smiling down on us. It's been a crazy five years, though, and my Jim has always eaten for comfort. For four years, I didn't say much: it was a sensitive subject, and after awhile, just about any situation starts to seem normal. About a year ago, though, a close friend of mine came to visit and expressed concern. When I looked through her eyes, I knew she was right: there was reason for concern. Before going to Jim, I went to the Lord, and I felt like He said to me: "Unless things change, Jim has ten years to live."
The ensuing conversation with Jim was one of the hardest of my life, but that man: he loves me, and he loves our children. To his credit, also, he's never disbelieved anything the Lord has laid upon my heart. So, last August, he went to the doctor and started the ball rolling.
Turns out, it was a really big ball. Regardless of one's history or weight, (s)he can't have just have weight-loss surgery on a whim. Despite our insurance company's long list of requirements, however, we had no reason to believe Jim wouldn't be eligible for surgery last spring. When, in January, we miscarried a baby we'd expected in July, I said over and over: I'm scared of July. I just couldn't understand (especially considering things I'd heard, related to the pregnancy, from the Lord) why the miscarriage...unless there was a reason we shouldn't have a baby in July. Jim's surgery was finally scheduled for June 6...only to be rescheduled for July 25. Our miscarried baby had been due July 24.
It's crazy the things that went through my mind in the year of waiting for Jim's surgery. Imagine knowing the love of your life will be involved in an accident. No one can say whether he'll come out unscathed. No one can even assure you of his survival! Two weeks ago, I had to acknowledge, by signature, that I understood 3-4 pages of risks, up to and including death. Again, it's crazy the things that went through my mind...things like: How much responsibility do I hold for Jim's current, physical state? Will I be capable of caring for him and our children as he recovers? How much responsibility will I--having prompted this course of action--feel if something goes wrong? If something goes wrong, have I loved him enough? And even: What if losing a ton of weight changes him, and he doesn't want me, anymore?
Last Wednesday, I was sitting in the hospital waiting room surrounded by my pastor, a dear sister from my church, and two friends I'd specifically asked to sit with me. We were a happy, lively circle. But, every now and then, there would be a lull in conversation, and I'd remember: my beloved was under anesthesia, and a surgeon was cutting him apart, inside. Those were sobering moments.
I'm so relieved that the surgery is behind us. I'm excited, too, to watch the person I love untangle himself from the trap of his body. Please keep Jim in your prayers as he recovers. He's doing well, for the most part, but he returned to the doctor on Monday for some antibiotics; he has the beginnings of a bacterial infection (heat, redness) in one incision site. And he isn't getting good rest; he's been discouraged from sleeping with his CPAP machine--at least for now--because he could potentially swallow air and damage his new stomach.
We remain so deeply thankful for every single prayer you've offered up on our behalf.