The idea of this post has been on my mind for some time. I’m actually a little uncomfortable writing it. Most of my posts are rated “G” and at most “PG,” but I believe the message holds a significant amount of importance. As I work on my book, I’ve been having to touch uncomfortable subjects. Sex is one of subjects I don’t like to discuss, my opinion being, those who talk about it a lot probably don’t do it that much.
In 2011, I reached out to my friend Stephen Johnson. There was one aspect of Lori’s illness that had taken something away from me, something that I guess was taken for granted. As Stephen sat with me in my living room, I struggled to come up with the words to express what was going through my mind. I mean, Lori was just two rooms away lying in bed completing her dialysis treatment. I shared at that moment that I was struggling with the acceptance that my sexual relationship was over. It was not for lack of desire or love for one another. It simply just wasn’t medically possible.
At the time I was thinking, I’m 37 years old, I just cannot accept that this part of my life is over.
Stephen had a feeling that this is what I was reaching out to him to discuss. I have no idea how he knew, lucky for me he was prepared.
Many other men in my situation would have sought out that “pleasure” elsewhere. I’m not wired that way. Call me old school, but sexual relations belong within the bounds of marriage, and on top of that, sex is dangerous, people die.
And then I learned a lot about intimacy over the next three years.
Sex does not equal love, and through the ending of a sexual relationship, it was then that I learned what love really is. I Corinthians Chapter 13 gives up a good manual for what love is. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
That sounds like a really good blueprint for marriage and it takes you to the road of intimacy. During those final three years of our lives together, that Chapter became the blueprint for the love between us. You gain intimacy just by being close to one another. I’ve learned that there is nothing more special that someone lying their head on your should as she goes to sleep. There’s nothing more special than holding each other’s hand as your driving down the road.
Many people were surprised to learn that we slept in the same bed up until the time she went to the hospital for the last time. It was about intimacy, about being close to one another. It was about being there if she needed me, whether it be for addressing the alarms on the dialysis machine, or if she got sick in the night, or needed help getting to and from the bathroom. I don’t think I got a good night of sleep in over three years. But I was always ready.
Intimacy also brings healing.
It has been shared with very few people the burden that Lori carried with her for years. Lori was a victim of something that no person should ever have to endure. Lori was repeatedly sexually abused over a period of years by a person that was supposed to be in a position of trust. She immediately told someone who should have been able to have been trusted and she was not believed. It wasn’t until that she was in her 20′s that she had the courage to speak up again and let it be known what had happened to her. I was that person she shared that she trusted to share that “dirty” little secret.
There are select others that know what took place all those years ago. Even though she did nothing wrong, it was her badge of shame and it skewed her view on sex her entire life. She was able to come to terms with it, she became strong and stood up to her perpetrator and let it be known what he did to her in those final weeks she lived. She forgave her abuser, even though he never admitted to her what he did. I so badly wanted for him to admit what had happened, what he had done, and for him to ask her forgiveness. Lori didn’t need his admission. She had forgiven him. I believe I wanted that admission more for me than for her.
Lori learned what love us. We learned what love was. We learned what intimacy was. We lived it. I struggle writing of what happened to Lori. It is part of our story. It is part of our relationship. It is part of what made us strong.
Sex does not equal love, nor does love equal sex. Got intimacy?