Will is somebody who I’ve always been able to bring everything to. Every crazy productive or insanely idiotic idea I’ve had, I know I can go to him and expect the truth - in love and without his judgment. I have never seen a man more supportive in every step I have taken, when it comes to the means of my creative/healing outlets - always telling me to go after my truth, however dirty or messy it is.
Mostly I hear from him, “Fuck what people have to say or think. What do you want to do?” Then, I get up and I do it. It’s that simple. It all is perpetuated by his insane ability to just look at me, which allows me to think about what I want - always pushing me to dive deeper or get more uncomfortable in my life and projects.
Oh yes, we butt heads on progress sometimes and we get into the scuffles, mostly, about the speed of my growth. Slow and steady wins the race with me, while he is a “balls to the wall” type. All I know is that after my dad’s death if I can just get out of bed and make a daily progression towards healing within myself and ensure that I’m feeding my husband, I feel like I’ve had a productive day. Not to say that is how it has to stay forever. But, being in this country for all of ten days, I just want to revel in the fact that I feel like I am doing freaking great right now.
And by the way, he knows it too. Maybe I just need to say that out loud so that I may have the permission to get up and do more. Right now, Will’s just working on getting me back to the gym (my anti-anxiety drug) and pushing me to walk places by myself, without an Uber.
My dad wanted to make sure that I was with Will before I came to be with him in his last days. He even kept it a secret from me that he had cancer so that I would deliver the animals and move to Bahrain - making our family complete. It hurt like hell to know that people all knew my dad had this illness, for even just a few days before me. Once I was in the country, though, I really understood why Dad needed me to move, first (you can read about my first day in Bahrain, here).
In the weeks to follow, my dad and I were on Facetime, sometimes five times a day. It was the most precious moments that I had with him, and look back fondly on the conversations we held.
In my father’s gasps for air, he would sometimes ask, “Is Will next to you?”, and I would hand the phone over.
The conversations between them were short, and Will let him speak what he needed to - each time, my dad explaining how happy I was there with him, how much he appreciated him in his life, that he loved and appreciated him, and how much he needed him to be there for me when he dies.
That still cuts me like a knife when I recall.
Will would give him a smile, rubbing my knee, saying, “Absolutely Brian, I am and will be right here”. And in the final twenty minutes of my dad’s life, it was Will who I called.
Within three minutes of me being in my dad’s room during his last moment, I smiled and told him, “I’m going to be right back, Dad. I love you”. I walked right into my uncle's office, I closed the door, called my husband, and sobbed out, “This is it, babe”.
I could hear him straightening his body and clearing his mind as he said, “I love you. You got this”. I replied, “I don’t know if I can. This is really hard, man. I am so scared”. His answer, “He needs you. You DO have this, and it’s okay that you’re scared”. Pausing, he said, “I am so proud of you”.
God, those six words.
The magic words of my father that gave me the strength to overcome anything that the world gave me. Just the sheer fact that I had someone seeing my intentions through my weaknesses and tears, breathing into my soul, telling my that they were well-pleased in my decision to walk through a massive flame of future hurt. And Will’s words was the part I needed to hear.
I remember sucking up my tears, and asking, “I’m not a little bitch, right? This IS hard, right?” Will, being the relatable man he is said, “Absolutely you are not. This would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do, too.”
Not only did he have pride in his wife, he had an understanding of the ramifications that would come after - and still, proving to me that he would be making the same decisions as I would if the shoe was on his foot.
In the weeks to follow, I have hidden from Will. He was my first call after my dad died, and he was the one who just watched me when I was on Facetime, staring at a wall - almost rocking myself back and forth, just to whisper, “I love you. Everything is going to be alright.”
He has picked me up off beds and walked me to brush my hair, after hearing my dad had no hope in his illness.
He has been the one taking phones out of my hands and listened to diagnoses, so I could expel every last thing in my body - the magnitude of it all just being too much for even my physical body to handle.
He has traveled 60 hours in a week and a half to stand with me in a funeral home, and shake the hands of my family who carried my father, promising the same promise to my father - he would be there to hold me when we came back to The Middle East.
He has been my strength when I couldn’t stand.
...and yet, he has seen too much.
Will now knows everything about me - there is no hiding. And still, after all of that, there is a part of me that wants to go to the craziest forms of myself - just to test his love. I want to know just where his crux is and what point he will say, “Okay! Too much!”. Just proving that he’s not this amazing being that I know him to be.
All of that is indeed broken thinking, which I know to be true. That thinking is what I brought into every single failed relationship before him, and in the first two years of our dating, where he almost left. That woman, sneaking back in as I have waited for the shoe to drop with people in my life so that I may prove to myself that I am truly not worth sticking around for.
Yes, I know in my good days that I’m worthy of all good and beautiful things. But there is a point where I look and I think, ‘Fuck! Why?!. Why couldn’t I have just walked through this one alone, without this person to see how messy I was. Somedays, I didn’t know how long it’d been since I showered or if I’d even brushed my teeth in two days. Why did someone have to see me at such lows?!’.
This, I know well, is my pride and my ego. It is what kept me in a perpetual hole for ten years before seeking counseling - my inability to want anyone, let alone myself, to see me in such a state of despair. Every time I look into Will’s eyes now, I see that woman calling him at the moment before her dad died for a bit of strength to walk back into that room. I know he sees it too. And even after telling him all of this, in true Jack Pearson goodness, he says that he doesn’t judge me for it, or even see it when he looks at me. But, I know it’s tucked away in his memory, and I want it gone.
What he sees strength. God, I can’t even see my own strength, at times. I just see a hot mess express.
I try to put on his eyes and see - I am now in a foreign country. I wake up each morning, and I choose to share my story with the world - a story, I might add, that he loves watching unfold and supports my writing in every single way possible.
I am still walking, talking, breathing, eating, cleaning, cooking, and grocery shopping.
Last week, I couldn’t even go on base without having visual flashbacks of color leaving my father’s face. Seven days later and I am at the same spot, writing for five hours straight, and when I was done, I left happy and Will was right there saying, “I am so proud of you for staying out of the house, today”.
So, I guess this is where I go deeper into my marriage. I take the vale off, and I recognize that everything that has happened has made this man love me more. That vulnerability, authentic place of pain, my ability to share without fear - that is where he met and loved me even further. Truly, what more could I ever show him that I haven’t already in those terrifying moments?
So why hide?
Why present myself to him as anything less than I already am.
He knows my past is being spewed up from the pits of my soul.
He knew that would happen long before my father was sick, and probably the day in 2014 that I made my leap in healing.
He knew from our first date that I had no resources for myself as a teen and supported my one day of writing until there was no more to write.
He welcomed my truth, and sometimes even pushed it so hard out of me that I was crying to feel no more of it - just for him to say, “You can handle more”.
While I have done the hard work, this beautiful man has been my coach - pushing more shit from my abyss and telling me to look at it face first.
God, I hate him for it sometimes. But like this morning, I got to wake up with him telling me, “I am so proud of you. You are doing remarkably well”.
And really, that’s all I need to continue forward.