07/03/2013 § Leave a comment
The pregnancy had taken quite a toll on Grace. Morning sickness visited her almost every day. And even on the days that didn’t start with the familiar feeling of nausea, she still felt tired and weak, as if she was carrying a heavy burden.
She didn’t remember pregnancy ever being this difficult. Not with Beth, Tyler, Jake, or even mischievous Alex. She loved all her children dearly, and counted them as blessings from the Lord, but now her faith was beginning to waver a little as she began to wonder whether her fifth child was going to be more of a curse than a blessing.
Grace was nagged by this constant sense of guilt. The constant sickness and fatigue had left her bedridden on too many occasions, and she was beginning to fall behind on her housework. She tried to ensure that her children kept up on their schoolwork, but this task was becoming more difficult as the pregnancy wore on.
Worse still, she felt that she had been neglecting her husband. She hadn’t always felt like cooking, and an increasing number of her efforts were far from stellar. He hadn’t complained, or even said anything to her, but she could tell that he was a little disappointed. She hadn’t felt like having sex since the beginning of the third trimester. She felt ugly and grotesque, and wondered how he could still desire her in this condition. He always told her she looked hot, and he seemed genuinely hurt as she rebuffed his attempts to be with her.
When she thought about how she had treated him, she began to cry, suddenly overwhelmed with hormones and the ghastliness of her behavior. It was a miracle he hadn’t left her, she thought, and the mere thought of him leaving her for someone else—someone better—made her cry even more.
She had often ignored him, being preoccupied with her pregnancy and accomplishing the most basic parts of her daily routine. And yet he hadn’t even uttered a word of complaint.
About two months after the pregnancy, once it was clear that the Marcus was going to be just fine, Grace put her plan in motion. She called up her mother-in-law and asked her if she could watch the children. She spent several hours planning and cooking her husband’s favorite meal. She set the table for two, with a small bouquet of daisies and a couple of white tapered candles in the center of the table. She took a long bath, put on her best perfume and that little black dress she knew he loved. She fixed her hair and prettied her face. And when her husband walked in the door, she gave him a kiss that he would remember on his deathbed.
Even in the post-coital warmth of his arms, the thought still haunted her, and so she asked him, “do you still love me?”
He replied, “Grace, I know the last couple months have been rough for you. I saw what you had to deal with. I saw how you were always sick and fatigued. I know that it’s not easy to take care of the house and kids, and even me, when you’re always feeling sick and tired. I know you didn’t feel like you deserved my attention, and I know that you wondered how I could still want you.
“But even though this pregnancy was difficult for you, I knew that you still loved me. You weren’t always able to show it, but I knew that you still loved me. You were just going through a rough time. I know you felt like you were being neglectful, like you weren’t doing everything you should, but I knew that you were doing your best. And that’s why I’m still so very much in love with you.”
And with that, the guilt that Grace felt simply melted away. She stretched up, kissed him on the lips, then rested her head on his chest and drifted off to sleep in the comfort of his embrace.