Sitting on the edge of the bed, I looked over to the corner window where my Jennifer sat, hands folded, stringy brown hair hung down obscuring her once animated face. Though the morning sun shone brightly into our bedroom, the darkness surrounding my wife was nearly unbearable.
After fifteen years of marriage and four children, our life seemed happy and fulfilled. God had blessed us with good health and meaningful relationships. Something changed, though, when Jennifer found herself pregnant with our fifth child. The pregnancy was difficult, her emotions nosedived and then the unthinkable happened—our beautiful daughter was stillborn. A shadow descended. Jennifer, however, retreated into a windowless room drenched in sadness.
I watched her from across the room. She was breathing, taking oxygen in and out, yet not truly alive. How could God have allowed this to have happened?
Her condition was diagnosed as post-partum depression initially, but soon I realized there was more to it. It was deeper and darker than any of our family wanted to admit.
Jennifer slowly yielded some household duties to our oldest daughter, Michelle, who was 12 years old. Like worn-out machinery, she sputtered and choked for awhile, then totally gave out. Her interactions with the children began to disintegrate. Michelle began to resent the added responsibility; our boys, aged eight and ten, began to act out in rebellion. Even little three-year-old Julia, the light of our lives, was shut out of her mother’s world and just couldn’t understand why.
I watched my wife from across the room. “Hey, honey. It’s a beautiful day. Why don’t we get outside and enjoy it together?”
“I think Julia wants to swing. Can you come help me with her?”
As I rose to move closer to Jennifer, little Julie bounded into the room. “Daddy, are we going outside to play?”
She wrapped her arm around my leg, pulling on my jeans.
“Julia, let’s see if Mommy wants to go with us?”
Julia’s blue eyes sparkled with delight. I could see her mind concocting an elaborate plan to get her parents involved in play.
She turned and approached her mother. A wide smile cut across her chubby cheeks.
“I got sumpin’ for ya.” Her sing-song voice rang out shrill and bright as pudgy little hands reached toward her mother’s face and pulled it close. A sweet, wet kiss left its mark on Jennifer’s cheek. “Love ya, Mommy.”
I watched as Jennifer’s eyes locked on Julia. Her hand reached out to her child. A tear slid down her cheek.
Sunlight streamed through the window.
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. Prov. 17:22 (NASB)
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