I’m going to digress slightly from the story and jump ahead to present time. Christmas was a success despite the constant rain and the havoc in the house. I’ve grown to love my sister’s boys even more and my relationship with her has strengthened as well. I’m happy about it, there was a time not too long ago when I thought I’ve lost her forever. Funny how motherhood and marriage changes people.

Last weekend we went away with our kids and had a truly wonderful family time. When trying afterwards to define one particular moment that we liked most, we couldn’t pinpoint it, we all loved it from the beginning to the end. It was one of those very blessed times when things just seem to fall into place in the right time and way and even those moments when it could go wrong it turns out for good – God’s perfect planning.

It started with Charlie saying recently he would like us to do something special after Christmas, since most of our time during Christmas holidays we were with my sister and her boys. It was a great time too but in a different way and we missed just being ‘us’. Soon after that he booked a room in a hotel and we headed off. We went to a museum, did some shopping, went to a fun swimming pool, met friends and had a nice meal. Kids were thrilled, they enjoyed every moment of it and they even got their own room in the hotel!

It would all be totally perfect if it wasn’t for one small incident. I woke up in the morning while Charlie was still in the dream world and I couldn’t fall asleep again. I was in bed when I heard a couple behind the wall having a rather loud lovemaking session. I’m not sure if ‘lovemaking’ is a correct word in this instance, I would use another, less polite word but I don’t want to spoil this page.

It’s funny – the kind of thoughts that come to your head in a situation like this. Who are they? Did we see them the previous night in the restaurant? Are they young or old (judging by the energy probably young ). Are they married or dating? And then the one – maybe they are having an affair? Maybe one of them (or both?) is betraying a spouse? Maybe this act of passion is someone else’s tragedy and horror? After that the other questions just followed: was it like that for THEM? Were THEY like that couple behind the wall? I knew of at least three situations when Charlie and Ana were together in a hotel, my imagination started to run wild again. What if he misses it?

Strangely I wasn’t upset, just uncomfortable. It doesn’t hurt so much anymore. Healing has come in stages, I have accepted the affair and everything else that happened. God’s promise about the wound becoming only a scar got fulfilled quicker then I expected. There was plenty of heavenly medicine applied to it – tears, talks, honesty, prayer, fasting, repentance and forgiveness. It was helped by not being picked at, not getting infected by bitterness and by the fact that there was just one clear cut to get the ‘puss’ out. It took a couple of weeks to be completely clear but once it was out there was no going back to uncover more. Knowing that he told me everything and there is nothing hiding in the shadows, helps.

But there was a time when those reminders hurt. I dreaded them: certain places, objects, thoughts. I didn’t avoid them because familiarising with them meant getting over the trauma. Yet still, at that time the only Spanish thing allowed in the house was Spanish garlic (apparently healthier then the Chinese equivalent) and I couldn’t stand the sound of the Spanish language.

I reminded Charlie recently of one of those times when his behaviour was particularly offensive. His response was “I was very sick” – it summed it up pretty well. I have thought about it this way too, that it was his sickness, his low and I had promised to be with him in sickness and in health. It is easy to promise when everything is good and you expect it to last forever. When you are young, your understanding of sickness is a week long flu, not something that affects your whole life. But it can be anything – disability, mental illness, addiction, deep rooted sin, personal weakness. When do you give up? Isn’t this the point of marriage, that we help each other up in those lows? And what if your spouse’s actions seem to be directed against you and they are not able to see beyond their selfish desires? Do you give up or fight?

Reminders are everywhere, even in the little things like a tag Charlie had on his bag last weekend. He got it in a hotel at one of those occasions which I’d rather like to forget. I asked him to take it off when we came home, which he gladly did, and I felt a relief, as if he took a pin out of my body. Those reminders pinch but they don’t trigger waves of sadness anymore.

There are good reminders too. The picture “God answers prayer” hangs beside my desk and holds a huge value to me. It draws my attention every time I pray at work, whether it’s for something personal or for a project I’m working on. It’s both a promise and a reminder of prayers already answered.