My husband lies asleep in his hospital bed. He feels no pain now, and he is comfortable. We knew this day would come when he would face down the full wrath of the Monster, when his fight would be gone, and he would pass into Eternity. It seems so unreal to me how he sleeps so peacefully. You who face the Monster now, clutching your loved one at the precipice of Forever, and seeing your love story come to the end, I know your anguish. I have wiped away tears pouring like lava down my face, I have felt my heart bursting in my chest, I have whispered bargains with God, and I have beat my fists against the aloof blue sky. You feel alone, but you are not. I know. I know.
It is almost over…the pain, the suffering…the waiting. There’s nothing you can do now, but speak your heart. Your loved one hears your weeping, your whispered heartbreak. I have told my husband all my words now. I have spilled forth my soul and let loose the dam of my heart upon him in an ecstasy of emotion and words of sweetest love. Here was my heart opened, and my soul bared. It startled me. It cleansed me. I know now that I would do it all again, no matter the pain. No matter the cost. Our love, in its final hours is without regret, and while I suffer the agony of the first pangs of the coming grief, I am not broken. I remain whole. So will you.
Tempered steel is the strongest. It gets this way by being put first to the fire and then reformed. It is poured shapeless and seething into a new mold, cooled in water, beaten on an anvil, and honed on a stone until it is razor sharp. Then it is polished and made perfect. Practically unbreakable. In truth, it cannot be made perfect without the fire. When you come toward the end of your journey with the Monster, you might feel as I do: worn down, exhausted, frightened, battle scarred. You might feel a sense of relief that your loved one’s terrible struggle is almost over. Or an overwhelming shock of disbelief. Or terror of what tomorrow brings. Or all of the above. Your feelings might be complicated and turbulent, or simple and peaceful. I have personally been through all of the above while my husband grappled with the Monster. I often believed that I could only stand by, not much more than the constant spectator to his exquisite agony. Perhaps you have felt the same way.
Yet, you have done more than you know. Even by simply holding a hand or whispering words of encouragement. Just think back to the long nights, running with glasses of water, a wash cloth, or a bucket. Sometimes you changed the linen at 3:00 in the morning. Or administered pain medication. Sometimes you helped them ward off their own demons or soothed them through nightmares. You were their comfort, their taxi, their cook, their nurse, their confidante, and even their priest. No, my friend, you did much more than you think. You went through the fire with your loved one, hand in hand. You survived the emotional beating, and now you have been tempered. You might lose the battle with the Monster, but you are more than when you started. The Monster attacked your loved one, but never accounted for…you.
There is a verse in ll Corinthians that says the following, “…you will be enriched in everything for all liberality…” This means that your terrible fight with the Monster has made you better, stronger, wiser. Your struggle with the Monster has created in you a new heart. It has reformed your spirit. It has redefined for you the meaning of love. You have come through the flames as tempered steel. You have become a Warrior. Be liberal now with your heart of steel. This is how we, the Warriors, will defeat the Monster.