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Staring at strength

“She’s so strong.”

That’s all I could think.

She was beautiful that day; she was happy that day; but all I could think when I looked at my wife was, “She’s so strong.”

We were at the baby shower for our soon-to-be-here second son, Chapel. I looked across the room, watching her laugh with friends, and the full realization hit me: “She is so strong.”

They’d decorated the shower in a tribal theme because Amanda says Chapel is going to be a Wildman. She was standing next to the arrow-covered cake my gifted baker friend made.  It sat on the Shipibo blanket my mother brought. My childhood best friend was there. Amanda’s childhood best friend was there.

Friends we hadn’t seen in too long brought more gifts than we’d need for triplets. We were loved on and thankful for it, but the overwhelming gratitude for me came in that moment – looking at the strongest person I know.

I know because I was there with her. There trying not to ask, “God, why?” so many times we drove ourselves crazy.

I was there when she saw through the doctor who looked her in the eye and said it would never happen. There in emergency rooms. There in hospital rooms. There holding her hand, hearing, “The surgery went well.”

Moments that broke me toughened her up. She focused on finding answers while I focused on escaping the pain. She dealt with side effect after side effect from medication after medication. She changed her health and lost an unimaginable amount of weight to increase our chances.

As the 12-year battle she’d fought flashed before my eyes, they called my already-here son and me over for pictures.

Later that night I looked at the family I’m so proud of on Facebook and thought, “I have this because of her. I have it because she didn’t quit when she could have – because she didn’t leave when she should have.”

The second time I met my now father-in-law, we stood outside together, and he said, “Amanda is the most stubborn person I ever met.” He kicked the gravel underneath him and said, “Her head is hard as this driveway.”

I don’t know if that was a word of warning, a word of wisdom, or a word of what was to come, but he was right.

I have what I have because he was right.

Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville. He can be reached at wcstults@yahoo.com.

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