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  • Dr. Melissa Baartman Mork

A Thousand Little Deaths

Dear Scott,

You died a good death. You did.

So why am I so angry? I can’t seem to move past it right now. I am locked in this rumination of rage. Not anger at God. Not even angry with you.

I am angry with me.

From the moment you were diagnosed, you were perfect. And after you died, you were sainted. Everyone remembers the very best parts of you. So much beauty and love that came out of your life and death. Even now, when people talk about you, it sounds as if I was married to Jesus’ kid brother.

But before you were sick, you were NOT a saint! Sometimes you were a real jerk (and so was I).

We were both selfish. We loved each other fiercely. No question. But there was a part in each of our hearts that did NOT love the other person, and we often failed to protect each other from that hateful part of our own heart.

Your hot Greek temper would flair up into rage. My Dutch stubbornness and stoicism would pull away from you. I would neglect you and you would get angry. When you got angry, I would feel contempt and harden my heart more.  A vicious cycle. Every time, we would lash out to hurt each other. With each lashing, another millimeter of my heart died. As did yours.

Throughout our marriage we grieved a thousand little deaths.

When people ask me, “How are you?” I don’t know how to answer. I’m so angry, but they don’t need to hear it. I am angry that we squandered so much of our marriage like that. That we wasted time and didn’t make the changes we could have made to repair it sooner. That we chose to endure the pain and assumed it would get better on its own. I’m angry because I have to walk away from conversations about your sainthood and feel conflicted remorse.

Yesterday a friend asked me how I was doing, and I told her this truth. I’m angry at me. I’m having a really hard time forgiving myself.

I said, “I don’t know if YOUR marriage is perfect, but ours wasn’t.” She laughed. She’s married to the sweetest, most mild-mannered Lutheran pastor I know. And she said, “This, my friend, is your next topic to write about. Nobody has a perfect marriage!”

Then she asked, “How do you grieve that?”

Indeed.


#marriage #losses #conflict #death #grief

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