My Harry was a wrestler. His sophomore year in high school he was California State Champ. He liked to maneuver through conversations using verbal techniques similar to wrestling’s physical ones. Whether it was a match or a debate, Harry wanted the other person to have to declare mercy. To tap out. So he could win. He was a fighter. He was also pig-headed and stubborn and wanted to do things his way.
My Harry went home to be with the Lord on Sunday, May 20 around 9:30 AM. God chose that moment to take him into his loving arms and relieve him of his demons, his addiction, his struggle, and from all the cares of this world. Finally, he was truly free. And finally, it would be truly revealed to him all the marvels we can not know on this earth because our minds can’t wrap our heads around the magnificent splendor and awesome wonder that IS God and IS LOVE. Finally he has experienced the unconditional love I so wanted to show him in this life but failed miserably in my humanness to convey.
As I was shaking, and screaming, and praying, and worrying – he was being ushered into heaven with thousands surrounding him praying for him.
We had just walked into church. We were running late. In the car, we had a casual but meaningful conversation about how glad we were to be together, going to church, and how strong our relationship felt in that moment. I said, “Why do you think we’re so strong right now?” And he said, “Well, I’m not a loose cannon…that helps.” And I looked over to him, smiled, hit him on the knee and said, “Yes, that helps. I’m really happy you are making so many good healthy choices lately.” We were both really hopeful for the future.
Work had given him an ultimatum about three-week prior and he hadn’t had a drink in as long. He had been buying things to help him stay organized, and was setting up his kitchen so he could start experimenting with cooking. He’d been getting Home Chef delivered for a few months and was tired of their recipes and felt he had enough knowledge to maybe cook on his own. It was a growth step for him. He wanted his life in order. Labels, laundry, closet, bills, he was working hard to get it all IN ORDER.
About a month before the turn around we were all fed up with his excuses, his drinking, his lack of follow through. My last blog released him to the Lord. I had no idea that I was literally releasing him to God in heaven. His colleague told me that he said, “I don’t want to be “not liked”. And that is when we all saw a shift. He was different. He had a different kind of resolve this time.
I believe that every time Harry made a promise his intentions were good. He wanted to be that man who didn’t let people down. But for some reason, his addicted brain, his wounded heart from childhood, his messed up philosophy he lived by for most of his life…wouldn’t let him truly address his illness.
The last three weeks we were all marveling at his progress though. It was like a different Harry. He called his cousin for the first time in two and half years sober. They had a good conversation. He was knocking it out of the park at work, solving problems, working together as a team, and fulfilling his obligations. He brought me flowers on Mother’s Day and cooked a meal for me because he didn’t want me to be alone. We ate on my balcony and it was a sweet night. We spent a lot of time together the last two weeks. Shopping, helping each other, watching tv, eating, and talking…a lot of quiet nice talks.
We saw the movie “I Can Only Imagine” and he cried like a baby. We also saw another movie about a grieving widow who had lost his wife. I looked over at him and said, “Is that how you’re gonna be when I go?” And he said, “I’ll go first.” And he pulled me in tight and we just hugged each other.
That morning I was more hopeful than I had been in years that he was on the right path.
We walked in during the third worship song, but instead of standing, he sat down. Instantly he was sweaty and I asked him what was wrong. He said he didn’t feel good and that every day for the past week he’d been getting a tight throat and sweats but it always passes. So I rubbed him on the shoulder and sang worship. I looked down and he looked concerned. His eyes were closed, his hands were in fists on his knees and then he just slumped over into me. I sat down to catch him. He was heavy and stiff and unconscious. I pushed him to roll him over and told the people behind us that I thought he was having a seizure. I looked down at him and his eyes were rolled back in his head, his mouth was clinched, and his head was purple. I started to scream for help.
The music stopped and someone ushered me away just outside the room where 1000 people started to pray for him. It seemed like an eternity before the paramedics came and took us by ambulance to the hospital. I heard them say they used the defibrillator three times to no avail. I knew in my heart when I caught him he had taken his last breath.
I believe in the heavenly realm and what happened that day must have looked amazing from that side. Praise and worship and prayers on earth. Harry surrounded by believers praying for his soul. I’m sure many were praying that He knew God and that God would deliver him from his pain. I can only imagine what it was like for Harry. I can’t wait to hear his story someday.
When I met Harry I was struck with how deeply I was attracted to him. From April 2012 to May 2018 I can honestly say with all of my heart I was truly in love. I wrote about dating him in my previous blog and formally introduced him here.
It seems like it was more like ten years ago instead of six. I feel like a completely different person now. I felt young then. Now I feel old. I was anticipating the rest of my life then. Now I’m longing toward heaven and wondering how mine will end. I know I’m depressed. I know I have deep sadness for what we could have had in life. I marvel at how amazing the love between us was. And how it seemingly crashed and burned. God sent many people to him to warn him, and point him toward health. He was put on the fast-track and God ramped up the consequences, relentlessly chasing Harry. The spiritual battle was intense but he put warriors in his life to surround him with prayers and to help point him back to Jesus.
Two of his closest work colleagues were Christian and between them and me…we had him covered. Frustrating to the point of insanity at times. But he was surrounded by people who wanted the best for him. God put Harry steps away from a good church when we lived in Long Beach where the pastor and his wife welcomed and loved Harry despite his struggles.
But Harry had trouble with trust. He didn’t feel worthy of love so he couldn’t trust that all these people really loved him. But they did. And Harry knows it now.
There was a moment I was on my bed in my home, back when all he and I did was chat over Facebook. We were just friends and most of our conversations were about deep issues. Most of them were about faith. I remember I made a promise to God that day that I wanted to show Harry what love looked like. God’s love. I made it my mission. Foolishly some would say. But despite all the hurt…I never let go of that. I maybe couldn’t live with him, couldn’t be married to him. But that last day we both had Agape love for each other. It was pure and honest and real. We only wanted the best for each other. I know it to be true. Whatever the cost it was worth it to me.
And maybe that is why God took him that day.
In God’s infinite wisdom, maybe he knew it was never going to get better than that day. God had mercy on all the people in his life who loved him by giving them a few weeks of sweet memories. He allowed Harry to leave on a high note. Proclaiming his faith, growing in his trust of God’s love but still wrestling with those demons he’d been fighting against for years. God called the match. God declared his mercy on Harry’s life and tapped him out. Took him home. From an imperfect world where we try to do what we can to honor Him, glorify Him, but always fall short. It is as if in that moment the righteousness of Jesus scooped him up and covered his sin, completely forgotten, and made him pure and acceptable, and welcomed his broken heart and finally made him WHOLE.
I would say to Harry often that all I want for you is for you to be HAPPY, HEALTHY, AND WHOLE. And now he is.
And God is having mercy on me too. I was never able to truly leave Harry. My heart and his were attached. I ran into the hospital room after they confirmed my worst fear and I couldn’t stop kissing and holding Harry. I put my head on his chest for the last time. I felt his big fat fingers and kissed his temple. I remember seeing the impression of my lips on his skin after kissing him. It’s the only time ever when my kiss didn’t affect him. He was gone. I had to see that and feel that to be able to let him go like I said I would on March 25. I have no other choice now.
The pastor gave me Harry’s wedding ring that was found on the floor of the church next to my Bible. He had been wearing it that day as he did every day. He called me his Spiritual wife and that it didn’t matter if we were divorced or not. He said I was his one true wife.
God’s mercy to me is knowing that Harry really did love me. And now the chaos of addiction he brought into my life is over. I can truly move forward now because I know Harry is at peace.
I don’t know what that will look like. But I trust that God has a plan.