Defining Moments

Life has defining moments.

And sometimes, right in the midst of them, time slows and that thought actually crosses my mind: “This is going to be a defining moment. So pay attention to it.”

Brandon and I have been lucky over the course of our relationship. We’ve mostly had good defining moments. The first time we kissed, the first time we told each other I love you, the first time we talked about marriage. Sure, there have been some harder defining moments, too. Like the time we almost didn’t give our relationship a chance, or the first time I had a panic attack in his arms, or when he burnt his face badly a few weeks ago.

But last night was a new kind of defining moment. Around 5 p.m., Brandon called me, which I found odd since I knew he was closing at work. I answered, and he said, “I just got a phone call that my dad…” and in that moment I knew that whatever followed was going to be one of those defining moments. What followed was that his dad had had a heart attack and was being airlifted to a major hospital.

Brandon closed up work, drove home, walked in the door, and hugged me. Hard. And if you know Brandon, he’s not the most affectionate person. So in that moment, my heart broke a little bit for him. And it kept breaking over the course of the night.

We quickly put our things together and made the hour and a half drive to the hospital. The ride was silent. I just kept looking over at Brandon as he was driving, and each time I did my heart just swelled up with an array of emotions. Because here’s the thing — I love that boy more than anything in my life. And when you love someone with that amount of intensity and depth, their hurt hurts you. His fear and confusion and frustration made it feel like my heart was being ripped out.

We were the first family members to the hospital, and as I grabbed Brandon’s ice cold hand on the way inside, and saw his clenched jaw, the thought crossed my mind again: “This, walking inside, is going to be a defining moment. So pay attention to it.” Once inside we were taken to a lounge and basically told to wait. So we did. We kept waiting. We’re still waiting.

But in last night’s defining moment, I realized something: When you’re in a relationship with someone, their family becomes yours. Their hurt becomes yours. Their struggles become yours. Their emotions become yours. I knew this theoretically, but now I know it in my heart.

When things like this happen, it’s so frustrating to feel helpless. It’s maddening to not be able to fix the hurt of the person you love most in the world. It’s difficult to grasp the fact they they process hurt differently than you do. You literally feel like if you could, you would take the hurt out of their body and put it in yours instead.

But you can’t do those things. You can’t do much of anything. So you do what you can. You love them. You hug them. You be there in the way that they need you to be. You pray to whatever you believe in. But mostly, you show up.
And you keep showing up, through each second of every defining moment.

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