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Once our daughter began having seizures, life was never the same. I had a three year old that never stopped moving and an infant that would have a grand mal seizure three or four times a day. I was in the neurologists office every other week with Court as we worked our way through different medications to try and control her seizures. Jonathan spent hours in front of the TV as I tried to keep every thing in our home somewhat normal.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that “normal” just wasn’t going to happen. I struggled every day to just get out of bed and care for my two little people. The heaviness of our new responsibilities weighed on me. Jerry was working 13 hours days and going to school at night for his Masters Degree. He was rarely home and when he was he was studying.
It was left to me to meet with doctors and make decisions about Courtney’s care and Jonathan’s as well. He had been diagnosed with asthma as an 18 month old child. He had an inhaler by age 3 and any time he had a simple cold we would have to do nebulizer treatments. Between Courtney’s med schedule and keeping Jonathan’s lungs clear, I was one tired Mama.
This was a difficult season in our marriage. A very difficult season. I discovered my husbands addiction to pornography and fell back into a life long habit of eating my emotions. Things began a spiral downwards very quickly that lead to some very dark months. We struggled with one another and with ourselves. We both were lost in the pain of what our children were going through and how it had changed our lives in the blink of an eye.
My days became hyper-focused on caring for the children, especially Courtney, whose needs were intense. I put my marriage aside and went through the motions of pretending to care. All that mattered was that Courtney and Jonathan were taken care of. I felt trapped in a life that I didn’t recognize and it was difficult to even pray. I felt God had abandoned me and I was all alone in my pain.
Jerry felt the same, except it wasn’t God who had abandoned him. He felt I had abandoned him. I hate to admit it even now but he was right. I had emotionally left our marriage, out of fear. Fear that he no longer loved me. Fear that he was no longer physically attracted to me due to my weight gain. Fear that I couldn’t be who he needed me to be or that he was no longer who I needed him to be.
It was a complicated emotional time and God felt very far away. One night everything came to a head and we had quite the fight. The kids were asleep and he made a comment that tripped me up. I was primed and ready to tear him apart, vomiting all my pain and fear that had been building up over the last few months. Tear away I did. He responded in kind.
Not our finest moment.
He slept on the couch. I slept with Courtney. Neither one of us would even approach our marriage bed. It was just too much to handle.
Sunday morning found us in church. We were attending my child hood parish and my parents happened to be there that morning. My Mother took one look at me and knew something was wrong. She smiled and hugged me and stayed close during the Mass. I don’t remember much about what the readings were or the homily. I just remember I felt safe because my Mom was close by.
After Mass, she hugged me and whispered in my ear, “Whatever it is Mary Beth, give it over to God. You are not alone. The Blessed Mother is right by your side the whole time. Her mantle of protection is covering you right now, pulling you into her arms. Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing.”
Jerry and I went home, got the children settled and started a very cautious conversation about all that was wrong with our marriage. I remembered my Mom’s words of encouragement and took it to heart. I mentally prayed my way through the next two hours or so as Jerry and I stepped our way through some torturous ground. By the time Jonathan woke up from his nap, we had agreed to seek couple counseling. I felt like I could breathe for the first time in a a very long time.
We faithfully attended counseling for the next year. We worked our way through some serious issues that we each had brought into our marriage and that the recent stresses had unearthed. We were committed to our marriage and protecting our little family. All the while, we continued to attend Mass, go to confession regularly and eventually learned to forgive one another for our brokenness. Jerry sought help for his issues and slowly we began to rebuild our marriage.
We began to pray together and read scripture together. We made courtship a priority and my parents supported us the whole way. My mother knew what my soul needed to hear that day. She knew what my heart needed to hope for my marriage again. Without my marriage, I had no idea how I would be able to care for Jonathan and Courtney on my own. I could not imagine my life without Jerry in it, I loved him with all I had and wanted him to remain by my side, flaws and all.
I had prayed to the Blessed Mother that night to give me the words that my husband would hear. I prayed for intercession on behalf of both Jerry and myself. I had begged her to help me be quiet so I could hear my husbands pain and figure out the root of it, so we could enter into healing together.
She had heard the cry of my heart and took my prayers to her son. She was and continues to be a HUGE part of my marriage. The Blessed Mother is our universal mother. ALL of us can call her “Mama” and cry and complain and beg and plead, whatever we need to do. She is there for us in the hardest moments and in the joyful ones as well.
All we need to do is ask for her help. I not only asked, I demanded that if she wanted my marriage to make it through this hellish season, she and her son needed to show up and make their presence known in a BIG way. I thank God that they did and that the Holy Spirit reigned down upon us that night and has stayed by our side ever since.
Pray with me won’t you:
Dear Mother Mary,
You have never said no when one of your children has asked for you aid. You have always stood close by to make sure we are safe and feel your love. You have shown us time and time again that we are not alone. All we need to do is ask and rest in the knowledge that the Father’s will be done. No matter what God’s will is, you will always be with there to help walk us through whatever we may be facing. Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing. Help us to never forget.
We ask this in the name of your son Jesus,