There are days when I wonder if life would be easier if I just chose to do the wrong thing. It sure seems like so many people doing all the wrong things have such happy, fulfilled lives where life is just a bed of roses. Or do they?
After he left, I carried all of his stuff to the basement. As it became clearer what items he wanted, friends sent their husbands over to carry large items down for me. I did this for several reasons, the first being that out of sight truly is out of mind. While I was living in limbo, it helped me to establish a somewhat normal life without him–without his physical presence. Removing his belongings to the basement stopped me from being constantly reminded of him.
Just over two and a half years ago I was left with an 18 year old car that barely ran. By barely ran, I mean, it died while driving down the road. The engine just cut off randomly. It was literally a piece of donkey dung. He had taken the better of our two cars with him, knowing that I lack the ability to fix cars. My inability to fix cars coupled with knowing the car would break down eventually, I decided that I needed to get a newer, more reliable car. I knew if I could get to and from work reliably, I would survive.
The biggest, most pressing problem I faced was that I had a deadline to purchase a more reliable automobile. My middle son had post-op appointments in Cincinnati two months, almost to the day, after he left. The 18 year old car was in such bad shape that my husband had not allowed me to drive it on our previous trip to the hospital. He said it wouldn’t make it through the mountains, and as the better of the two cars needed some work, he rented a car for me to drive. This let me know there was NO WAY I would chance driving to Cincy in the middle of the winter, through the mountains in this old beater.
The second problem that I faced was the fact that I had to figure out how to pay for this hospital trip. Y’all, God is so good and He performs miracles daily. My husband refused to help me figure the car situation out. Well, he did offer to do the brakes (true story — one for another blog post). My friends helped me get the money we needed to make the trip. They are truly angels on earth. My husband did continue to pay the mortgage, though he threatened not to at least once a week, which caused my anxiety to go through the roof (topic for a different blog post). I had to figure Cincy out.
Still shocked that he refused to help ensure his son had a safe ride up to the hospital, I formulated a plan. I started selling my personal belongings on eBay and through Facebook. Over the years, my mother-in-law had given me some really nice purses and clothes. I sold them. His grandmother gave me a Dooney and Bourke purse. I sold it. I stuck the money in my safe. I sold all of our homeschooling curriculum.
This is where doing the right thing was REALLY hard. I didn’t sell any of his belongings. He had fancy saws and other tools worth thousands of dollars. I didn’t sell them, though the thought crossed my mind. Friend after friend told me to sell them! I would reply, “If I sold his belongings, then I would be no better than he is for stealing my stuff and my father’s stuff. I won’t stoop to his level.” I held to that. I want to note that I also refrained from putting all of his stuff in the driveway and lighting it on fire. For over a year and a half, his crap sat in my basement. Oh, I had moments, y’all. I wanted to sell it or destroy it every time he refused to help pay for something his kids needed. I thought it could help with my legal bills. I had to talk to Jesus to keep me from setting it all ablaze or selling it on more than one occasion. Over and over, His answer to me was, “Do the right thing.”
The two youngest boys were still living with me. One full-time and the other on weekends and school holidays. That first December was tough. I told them I’d buy essential groceries, but non-essentials would be something they would have to purchase. One day, we didn’t have milk or meat in the fridge. I texted their father to ask if he could give us some money to help with groceries. He never responded, nor did he send money or food. In desperation, I texted a lot more than I should have. Partly because I couldn’t believe a father wouldn’t care to help feed his children. He could have dropped food off to them for all I cared!
The first month he was gone, he gave us a little cash for food. That money ended in November, the month after he left. Luckily, despite his threats, he did pay the mortgage. I was tempted to sell every last thing he left in my house in order to buy food for my boys. Instead, I sold more of my personal belongings on eBay. A friend showed up one day with meat that month. Lots of meat from Costco! What a blessing my friends were. God provided for our every need. Again, I talked to Jesus about selling my husband’s things and I received the same answer, “Do the right thing.”
The day after I had surgery, my husband had a notary come by the house. I was still feeling the aftereffects of anesthesia and hopped up on pain meds. He was cashing out a pension and needed me to sign in order to make the transaction. After he left, I didn’t think I would ever see my portion of that money! This may be the only decent thing he’s done since he left. I had saved up $5000 from selling items. With the money from the pension and my savings, I was able to buy a used Camry with a $119/mo payment. I got the car just days before our Cincy trip. God’s timing is perfect! We’ve made it safely to and from Cincy in my car 3 times now.
My youngest two boys have a genetic bone marrow failure syndrome called Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome with secondary Mitochondrial Disease. My middle son also has a third rare disease called eosinophilic esophagitis. Between them, they’ve been under anesthesia almost 100 times. We’ve made 3 trips to the hospital since he left and other than $60, the ex hasn’t contributed. The second trip we made, my friends did a fundraiser to help cover expenses. One friend covered the cost of the hotel. Last year, I was able to cover the expenses myself! What an amazing God we serve! In two months, we head up again and I am, once again, able to cover the expenses for gas, food, and hotel. I was tempted to sell his tools and all the furniture he wanted in order to pay for medical trips. Jesus kept reminding me, “Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, do it anyway. Do it for me.”
My middle son had to go to the hospital with a high fever again just months after my husband left. Part of Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome is neutropenia and they are followed at the local Cancer Center. I had $30 to my name. He was prescribed medicine at the hospital. We both tried texting his father, but received no response. We were trying to find out if we could use the HSA card to purchase the medications. When we arrived at the pharmacy, I told my son, “Let’s hope I can afford your medicine. Let’s say a prayer.” When I got inside and found out it was $25, I was relieved. I thanked God and said, “You know, God, this is my grocery money. I’m going to buy this medicine and trust that you are going to come through!” Y’all, the next day, a lady from church showed up with all the stuff to make homemade chicken noodle soup! She brought groceries!! Oh, my stars! Our God performs miracles!! I was tempted to sell my husband’s things to buy food and medicine. I can’t say Jesus told me to do the right thing here, because I’m fairly certain Jesus would be okay with my selling my husband’s belongings to purchase food and medicine for OUR kids.
I am not perfect and I’m certain that I haven’t always done the right thing. I can say that I have never knowingly and willfully done the wrong thing. I try my best to follow God’s Commandments and to do the right thing, as hard as it may be.
The better of the two cars he took seized up and died a few months after he left me. I can’t say that this is reaping what you sow, only God knows that. I, myself, thought of doing the wrong thing SO many times during this ordeal, but Christ reminded me over and over to be the better person and to do the right thing. God didn’t say following Him would be easy, but He certainly gives us the grace and strength we need to do what He calls is to do.
I’m pretty sure his grace and strength are the only reason I didn’t find myself hauling stuff to my driveway and setting it on fire at one time or another. His grace is real, y’all.