Originally Posted on September 20, 2011
It’s been three months since Janie passed on from this life. She slipped out of our fingers at 5:30am, the 20th of June. The docs pronounced her brain dead the next morning, but I know when she checked out. She was walked to the other side by my Lord, her task here on earth completed. She finished well, having accomplished so much in her very short allotted time.
I learned this week from my mother, who had spoken to a brain tumour specialist that it is very likely Janie had that miserable tumour in her head from the time she was 12 or 13. That means the clock was ticking for her from a very young age, long before I ever had the pleasure of meeting her. I was told by my mother and someone else (our family doctor) that nevertheless, despite the fact that her life was to be cut short, God entrusted her to me for a short while. She was my wife, my lover, my very best friend. She was and is the mother of my children. I am sure part of her mission here on earth was to bring these two exceptional human beings into existence. Her womb carried these two lives to term, her genes imbued their souls with so much of what makes them so unique and magnificent, her care nurtured them from early on and the memory of her will walk alongside them as they carry on the road without her, but not alone.
Another part of her mission was to meet me, to love me, to enrich me with her very essence. I have written before that I believe she was meant to make me a man. She pulled it off, she succeeded. If I’m not there yet it’s just because I’m a slow learner. I have the full curricula etched into my soul. She did that.
If God writes the curricula, then Janie was my teacher. She instructed me in the nuts and bolts of life, everything from finances to keeping an orderly house to understanding and loving the soul of a woman to raising children in the right way. My parenting style is different to hers, but I am drawing immensely from her example. I am growing still. I owe that to her.
I am a better parent today than three months ago. I am a better cook (for small children) than I was three months ago. I am a better home maker than I was three months ago.
I ache somewhat less than I did three months ago. Every day it gets just that little bit easier to make it through the day.
There are setbacks. The happy wall project plumbed the depths of my soul and energy reserves. I’m paying for that. I was going to take the kids up to Ballito for the week to spend some time by the ocean. As it happens, I have some kind of bronchitis or something and a mouth full of ulcers. Mom and dad Spence stepped in and have taken the kids down to the beach for these few days so that I might recover some energy and get well here at home. I cannot express here adequately how grateful I am to them for that. I awoke this morning to sunshine coming through the curtains. I haven’t switched on CBeebies today. I haven’t made tea in the bottle today at 5am. I slept. I am recuperating and that will stand me in good stead to make the last push before my mother comes out from the States next month.
I honestly expected the depression today to be far more acute than it has been. In fact, I’d say I’m not depressed at all. Just somewhat sad. I suppose that’s down to the understanding that despite the fact that Janie’s days were always going to be short, despite the fact that the tumour was coded into her genes from before the time she was born, I still was given the opportunity to share my life with this unbelievably wonderful person. I wish there were a word to express this sensation. It’s bittersweet, but there is awe and immense gratitude in there also. How could I not rejoice in the 13 years of our acquaintance? How could I not celebrate nine good years of marriage? How could I be anything but thankful for the gifts she gave me, our two beautiful children and the tools to become a man? This is the stuff that people get married for: to be fruitful, to reach the apex of their potential as humans in that conjoined life where the two become one.
You, Janie, you made me what I am. From where you are in your place of solace, hear this: thank you. I miss you but I carry you in my soul. I always will. You are my first love. I’m surrounded by your affection; I am submerged in joyous gratitude. I am baptized into this eternal love that God gifted me through you. That you are gone does not remove the transformation. I grow in your physical absence. That was your gift to me, among so many others. I miss you, but the will to live is stronger than ever.
One of Janie’s favorite albums was Tom McRae’s “King of Cards.” She was particularly fond of the first track, Set The Story Straight. It takes me right back to our place in Wilmington, making dinner, having a glass of wine with her and catching up on her day at work. We had a good life there in the States, but our home is here in Africa. Someone asked me yesterday if I were going to go back to the States now that she passed on. As much as I miss my friends and family there, I know where I belong. I am glad we returned so that she could be in this country she so desperately loved, to be near her family and childhood friends when her time was up. I’m eternally grateful that we came home. This is my home, too.
So this post is a tribute, on this the three month anniversary of her untimely demise. Cheers, love. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat, even with the same result.