For Better or Worse: The Lesson My Sister Taught Me
On Monday, October 28th at 8:15pm, we lost Randy’s big brother.
It’s almost surreal, typing that out. If you have followed me for a long time or know me well, you know that I find writing cathartic and comforting. I love telling stories and I love being able to look back at my words to remember how I was feeling.
Today, I feel light. I feel loved. I feel honored. I feel blessed.
Over the last 11 months, our focus has been on Ricky and his family. We transplanted our family from Colorado and moved, essentially sight unseen, to a small town in Georgia so that we could spend whatever time we had left with Ricky, and so that we could be here for Lynette as she becomes a widow and a single mom to their three amazing kids. We questioned why something like this would happen to someone as incredible as Ricky and wondered how our family, as a whole, would survive something so heartbreaking.
At the nearly 200 weddings I’ve photographed, I have always watched the groom as the bride walked down the aisle – something about watching someone they love is so endearing to me. Their expressions, their tears, their body language – I can tell a lot about a relationship by the way that someone looks at their spouse.
So these last few months, I’ve kept my eye on Lynette while everyone else has been looking at Ricky. I’ve watched her as she loved him, as she teased him, as he teased her back, as she stood strong for her children. Her unwavering love and support for her husband, even in his darkest moments, is something we can all learn from.
I have learned so much over the last several months – lessons I’ll share when I’m ready, if I’m ever ready to share. But today I want to share about the lessons Lynette has taught me, simply living her life as Ricky’s wife. Watching her as she gently stroked Ricky’s face and talked to him, as she washed his body and told his stories, it was a living, breathing example of their vows of “for better or worse.”
As we sat together in hospice the last few days, Lynette simply lived her life as she’s done for the last 18 years as Ricky’s wife and best friend. She bathed him, she shaved him, she teased him, she tickled him, she ran her hands through his chest hair and held his hand. She prayed for him. She shed tears, she told stories. All while looking at him with the kind of look in her eyes that had more wisdom and peace than I’ve ever experienced.
And Ricky? He gazed right back at her, up until he closed his eyes and began to let his earthly body go.
While I’m heartbroken and devastated for our family, I also feel joy. Joy that Ricky is no longer suffering, joy in the fact he has been reunited with his mom and the friends he’s lost along the way. I feel joy that Ricky is free of cancer, and has the best seats in the house for Seahawks games until the end of time. I feel joy in knowing that one day, we will see each other again.
Today though, the real hard part begins. We pick up the pieces, and we move forward without our brother, our friend. And I’m sure I’ll learn more from Lynette over these upcoming days, weeks and months – lessons I won’t know I need, until I’ve learned them.
But today? I’m going to be Randy’s wife. I’m going to be his support, his love, his best friend. I’m going to hold him together, just as Lynette did for Ricky. I’m going to tease him and give him a hard time, I’m going to laugh as he does it right back. I’ll hold his hand and tickle him, I’ll gaze at him with every ounce of my love for him that I can muster, through my tears and sorrow. I’ll prepare his food and wash his clothes. I’ll bring him coffee in bed and we’ll laugh together over silly things. I’ll find ways to bring joy into his life, big and small. And I’ll do that until death do us part.
That’s the lesson I’m taking with me today.
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