Last night, as I lay quietly weeping next to my sleeping wife, I prayed with all my heart.
In four short days, we will be separating for good, a prelude to the divorce she requested just before Christmas. Looking at her through my tears, I could tell she was exhausted. The past few weeks have taken such a toll on her. We still love one another and have both been trying so desperately to make our inevitable parting a process of love and respect and peace. But that does nothing to stop the inevitable pain of letting go. As she has for our entire relationship, her primary concern has been for me. Doing whatever she can to make this in any way less traumatic, easier to endure.
She has always been selfless, up until she finally gathered all the vestiges of her courage to finally set herself free. I desperately want her to be happy and fulfilled, even if that means letting her go. But I prayed, nonetheless. I prayed like a condemned man facing the final seconds of life knowing that in a few short moments the executioner will do what he must do, and it will all be over. I prayed like Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, asking his Father to spare him from “drinking this cup.” I prayed for everything cowards pray for when the consequences of their actions stare them squarely in the face and demand accountability. I prayed for a way out.
And then I realized…this is exactly why I’ve lost her. In that tender moment of the night, watching her toss and turn in a fitful sleep, I had failed her once more. I failed to pray for what’s best for her. I failed to pray for her happiness and security. I failed to pray for her future. I failed to match her selfless act for selfless act. I failed, once more, to love her with all of my heart. Too consumed with my loss and pain, I failed to consider hers.
This is undoubtedly why I should not be allowed to pray. Or to love. My prayers fall on silent ears because they are offered in false pretense. I haven’t evolved enough as a person, let alone a man, to put the needs of those I love most ahead of my own. I have no faith anyway, so why I continue to dabble in the mysteries of prayer, I don’t know. But with or without faith, I am going to give it one more try.
This time, my prayers are for her. For her happiness. To ease her suffering and pain. For the joy she so richly deserves. To be surrounded by people who are stronger and more present than I ever was. And more truly loving. For the strength to grow from this, to risk again, to find her true meaning.
To let me go without second-guessing.
Perhaps, if just this once, I pray for her needs before my own, then tonight she will sleep more comfortably. And I can cherish the few remaining days I have with her…for her sake.