The date is March 8, 2012. The first sentence in my journal entry for this date reads, “On this day I should have died.”
Recalling the events of the day stir a tsunami of emotions. It is only in looking back that I can see the hand of God in this marriage; on this day, I see the hand of God protecting my life, being merciful enough to keep me alive and using these very difficult events to eventually bring me to Himself.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
The morning of March 8, 2012, started similar to most mornings for me. While I don’t recall exactly its beginnings, I am sure that the morning was no different for us. I most likely had quietly made my way back to bed with my husband in those pre-dawn hours. Most likely my daughter was already awake and upstairs in the rocking chair, headphones feeding music into her ears. Most likely I showered, ate breakfast, made the bed and listed her schoolwork for the day on the white board that hung on the wall of the dining room where we convened for school each day. Most likely, I had shed numerous tears before any of these things had taken place.
We usually left for the high school a little early. Often, my daughter would like to get there with enough time to go to a practice room to sing. Singing was a way she relaxed, but singing at home is not as private as the soundproof practice rooms found in the music area of the high school. On this particular morning, Anna told me that we were out of dog food. I was instantly frustrated with her. Every morning she fed the dog before coming upstairs. Would it have been so difficult for her to say something before we were completely out? I let her know how frustrated I was with her and told her to get in the car–we would leave now and get dog food. I had no idea if we even had money in the bank to buy it, but crossed my fingers that the debit card would go through. The dog needed food. While in the Country Store, I received a text message from a friend asking me if I wanted to get together with her and Friend 1 this morning while Anna was at choir. I replied that I would since I was probably heading to Friend 1’s house anyway. I breathed a sigh of relief as the card went through and we set out for the high school. As we crossed the railroad tracks, my conscience was prodding me to apologize to my daughter for yelling at her. I looked at her and told her I was sorry. I then, for some reason, asked her if she was bothered by all that was going on at home. She didn’t look at me but replied with one word–“Duh.” I blinked back tears and stepped further into the waters. I asked her if I left her dad, what would she do. Her response is burned onto my heart. “I’m going with you,” she said. “I’m certainly not going to stay with him. Can we just leave? I can’t take this anymore. If we do, can Yogi (our dog) come too? I can’t leave her with him.” The way she emphasized the word him revealed her disdain for her dad. My already broken heart broke further with her words. I fought back the tears until I dropped her off and watched her go into the school. I took out my phone and dialed Pastor 1. I relayed my conversation with Anna to him. He told me the time had come to leave. I reached the house of Friend 1 and, after wiping away the tears and reapplying some makeup that I hoped would cover the evidence of them, I went inside. The three of us sat in the living room, Friend 1 and Friend 2 chatting back and forth. I was replaying the conversation with Pastor 1 in my mind. We had not had a chance to finish the conversation. My phone rang and I asked my friend if I could take the call down in her basement. It was a difficult conversation and I felt like I was on the very edge of a major breakdown. I noticed the time and had to leave to get Anna. I was NOT in good shape. As I was putting on my shoes to leave, Friend 1 came over and asked if I was okay. I shook my head and said, “I just need to leave. I need to get Anna.” She called me soon after we arrived home. I went in the back to hide the tears from my daughter. I told Friend 1 that I just wanted to die. I didn’t care about anything or anyone at that point…I just wanted to die. She began crying as well. She told me she wanted to come over but her little guy was napping. She begged me to call Pastor 1 back, but I refused. From our morning conversation, I felt I could not trust him; he had broken a confidence and his actions could have horrible repercussions for my husband, especially if he carried out what, in essence, was his plan to blackmail Dave. She then begged me to call Pastor 2. She gave me his cell phone number. I reluctantly agreed. I pushed the buttons on my cell phone. He answered on the second ring and he instantly knew I was in a very bad place. He told me he was in a lunch meeting in Plymouth but wanted me to meet him at the church at 2:30. His words before he hung up were, “Becky–hang on.” I didn’t think I could last the hour until our meeting time. Just as I was leaving, Friend 1 called me. She asked me to please NOT hang up…to talk to her until I walked into Pastor 2’s office. I obliged her but vowed that if a semi truck was coming towards me on that drive, I would veer into its path. On a major state highway usually busy with truck traffic, there wasn’t a truck anywhere to be found. In fact, I don’t recall any vehicle of any type in the opposite lane of that two lane highway. Pastor 2 was waiting for me and, after assuring Friend 1 that I was in his office, he sat down, wheeled his office chair over to me, took my hands, and prayed. We then talked for over an hour, him stopping to pray often in that time. I told him of my conversation with Pastor 1 and his plan to blackmail Dave. He agreed that Pastor 1 had done the wrong thing and promised me that he would speak to him; in fact, he would call him as soon as I left and set up a meeting that night. He wouldn’t let me leave until I promised him I would not do anything to end my life. It took some time for me to agree to that, but I finally relented. I knew I needed to be home before Dave and I was already pushing it. I had instructed Anna to lie to her dad if he happened to come home before I got there. It was the safest and best thing to do for both of us. Looking back, I know God placed Pastor 2 and Friend 1 in my path that day to preserve my life. I respected both of them enough to keep a promise I made.
Over the next few weeks, our marriage deteriorated to almost nothing. Pastor 1 counseled divorce several times. I wanted a divorce. Anna wanted a divorce. She was tired of living in fear and misery. Every time I told myself that Pastor 1 was right, I would hear the counsel of Pastor 2 echo in my head: “Becky, divorce is so final. Make sure that you know that you know that you know it is what you SHOULD do. It is not the unpardonable sin, but it should not be the first resort or entered into lightly either.” I also knew there was no way I could support Anna, nor could I ever pay the tuition to keep our son in school. His college didn’t participate in the federal student loan program. Some parents did private loans to pay for the fees there, but our credit was so bad there was no way we would ever be approved for that. We had tried. My son’s goal was to be a pastor. I desperately wanted him to reach that goal and felt for sure if I divorced his dad, the man who paid those fees, our son would certainly hate me. I knew if I was going to divorce, I needed the 100% backing of all the kids. I wasn’t sure I had that. Those fears–lack of support for the kids and losing my kids–kept me from following through on Pastor 1’s advice.
In middle to late March, our son came home from college for spring break. It was his freshman year and while he knew life wasn’t great before he left for school, he had no idea just how far downhill they had gone since his departure. That was about to change though. Until now, I had repeatedly cried to God, asking Him where He was, didn’t He care, and how could He put my daughter and me through such hell. God did not come miraculously, riding on a white horse, making everything right in our little world. What He did was much slower, much more intentional, and He did it in a way that would take us all through valleys so dark and so scary that it seemed light would never be seen again. God’s first step was one I couldn’t see coming and, in all honesty, one I wish had never had to take place.