“‘I don’t want to live without you,’ I said.
I was kneeled next to him in the hospital in St. Louis. I’ve never cried that way before.
‘Do you feel like the end is near?,’ I asked.
‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Do you feel right with God?,’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Are you scared?,’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘But mostly of leaving you.’
‘How am I supposed to do this without you?,’ I asked. ‘You can do anything, Bethany.’ And then, he put his hand on my arm.
He looked at me. ‘Bethany, I’m truly sorry. I never wanted to leave you. Not like this. Not ever,’ he said.
I could not breathe. The look of haunting sadness in his eyes. His body that would not do what he wanted it to do. His hands that were usually warm, cool to the touch.
Being pulled by a current of death we could not fight.
‘What is Jesus telling you?,’ I asked.
‘He’s telling me He has something wonderful ahead for you and for the kids,’ he said. ‘Something beyond. Something incredible. Something extraordinary. So don’t be afraid.’
The nurse came in, and checked his pain meds. She helped me move him from the chair to the bed. His legs were swollen, unrecognizable, unable to keep him steady.
I reach my hand out and touch him. His body is tremoring from all of the meds and treatments. They say it is normal, but none of this is normal.
‘You can do this, Bethany,’ he said. ‘You’re going to build a kicka– business, and you’re going to do what you have to do. You’re going to write a book, you’re going to speak to thousands, and you’re going to raise our children well,’ he said. ‘I know this because I know you, and this will not take you out,’ he said.
I recorded this conversation on my phone. It was one of the very last exchanges we ever had.
He came home in an ambulance to hospice the next day, and what was left of him slowly drained from his body.
Sometimes I still can’t believe this is my life. Sometimes I still can’t breathe. Sometimes I still can’t steady my heartbeat.
And then I remember his words.
DO NOT BE AFRAID.
And I just know – it is so.”
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