Wednesday, October 16, 2013

These Three Words

By Felicia Bennett

Felicia Bennett and her father, Lavadus Coley, in the early '90s.
Life and death. Two defiant partners who chose to do a 24-hour contra dance on January 8 with the two most important men in my life.

Never in a million years would I expect my father to pass on the exact same day my husband received a cancerous biopsy result.  My emotions were thrust into a tailspin, running towards the Daddy's Little Girl who somehow lost grip of his hand (and her title) decades ago, while suiting up to be the steadfast partner to fight the battle of survival for my husband of nine months.  On this life-changing day, the three most important words that I needed to say to both men were different, yet equally profound. 

My father's emotional absence was a subtle riff my entire life that only grew into a crescendo after he remarried. The emotional detachment grew with every passing milestone.  I learned to love him from afar, and even when he left a trail of broken promises, I learned to step over them instead of scarring my soul.

 A debilitating stroke had me staring down at the shell of a man I once knew, void of all communication as he lay in his deathbed, drawing his last breath. A peaceful sight that erased all other memories.

It was at this moment, beneath that heaving chest I knew there was the heart of a man who once called me his Baby Girl.  I had to let him know that, on the dusk of a cold, January day and his transition, I was here. Bending down, I gently kissed his forehead and let him know what we both needed to hear.

I forgive you.

For my beloved husband, I had yet to create the infamous “Honey Do” List of house renovations (with the addition of a fence project for the front yard being at the top) when a severe stomach ache had me rushing him to emergency three weeks earlier, prompting surgery for a bowel obstruction the same day.  Everything was so quick, so urgent that I had no time for fear or worry.  Neither were an option; I needed him to know that I had his back.  For better or worse, in sickness and in health.

But on this day, his energy was driven by a mixture of anger and fear.  And it was palpable, thanks to an erroneous call from the hospital's cancer center the day before "confirming" his appointment, an appointment we had yet to learn about from his surgeon. My role was to keep the energy and focus positive, even when I had no idea what the doctors would be telling us. The big C was the last thing we expected as newlyweds; after all, we had yet to use all of our wedding gifts.
Bennett and her husband, Albert, on their wedding day in 2012.
But just as the surgeon was led to the three carcinoid tumors (that would have gone undetected in their location had it not been for the pain),  I had to remind him that God would lead us through whatever news came our way.  For my soul mate, I held him tight and uttered these words:

God is able. 

January 8, 2013 will forever be the day I let go of the hurt of a little girl who felt abandoned in order to assume the role of a strong woman who needed to be there in every aspect for her husband.

Felicia Bennett is the editor and founder of The Well-Heeled Society lifestyle blog. She is the social media manager for a UK-based company, and has written for Magazine BLU, about...Time, her Rochester and Relate magazines.


This article appears in The Well Magazine Spring 2013 Issue.
To download the magazine for only $1.99, click the cover.



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