It was early 1987 when I moved back home to Michigan after a 3 year stay in Virginia. I was 18, she was 17 and a senior in high school when we met. There was a quick connection a short courtship and then we were engaged later that year. She finished beauty school and we married on September 17th 1988, she has been a beautiful bride since day one. Stacey is a treasure to me. Shortly after the wedding I was hired by a public school system and life began for this young couple. I am now 47, she is 46 and I still have a job with the schools and she is now a nurse. We have been happily married (for better or for worse) for 27 years now.All Stacey ever wanted in life was a family, to be a wife and mother was all she desired. As for me, I was just a stupid 20 year old kid who didn’t really know what I wanted in life or what it would mean to be a husband or a father. I learned about unconditional love from my wife and her family, they were gracious with me for there was allot of ugly and unlovable things about myself. Over time I learned what a husband and father’s role was in a family. I had great examples to follow in our family and church.
Stacey had become an aunt a year before we married and made it clear to me that she wanted a family right away. Being naïve about fatherhood I was happy to oblige my 19 year old wife. The wedding dress was on a hanger and still warm when she asked for kids. October 12th, 1989 our sweet little Jordan came into our world, we bought a house and the family continued to grow. Jacob was my idea and he arrived in March of 1992 and then Jared was born in October 1994. In 2001 we built a large new home on family property and life was really good for us.
It all was every Norman Rockwell to me back then. It wasn’t perfect but it is a time of life I look back on with great joy and would relive again if I could. The family had grandma’s and grandpas, aunts uncles, brothers and sisters and cousins galore. Our lives were linked very closely to her nearby parents during those early years, it continued all the way through the graduations of our kids. It was a happy time in life, a time very untouched by any tragedy or sorrow. But all would change, sorrow did come and tragedy arrived in unimaginable ways for us all.
Papa Johnson died first and extended family life began to change after his passing. The kids were growing up and busy lives separated the extended family except during the holiday seasons. The nests emptied from our homes and then the one year storm began. First it was Justin my nephew, he died at 23, then granny Johnson passed away that December. Jacob my son died three months later in March, he had just turned 22, and then mom. Linda, my wife’s mother died suddenly at age 66, just six short weeks after Jacob. The family dynamic died with her, everything changed for us in the spring of 2014. I feared for my marriage that spring, not because of the lack of love but because of the uncertainty that crisis can bring into life.
I know of marriages that have been destroyed by the death of a child. I think back on the day Jacob died and I feared that somehow his death would destroy our marriage. I remember the day he died, I clung to Stacey and said to her that I did not want this to destroy us. She assured me it wouldn’t. I can say that by the grace of God it has only united us more and deepened our love for one another. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22 ESV) It has been anything but a wedge between us and for that I am truly thankful to God. There is a spoken and unspoken language of grief which we share now. We understand each others hurt without a word, I feel her pain in just an embrace and sometimes the pain forms words for me to hear and at other times its seen in her eyes.I really hurt for my wife because much of what she wanted in life has been taken away from her. Her mother is dead, Jacob is gone, the kids have busy lives and the house is quiet and relatively dormant. Our lives mostly involve work and each other now. The extended family seems much more distant these days, nothing is the same- nothing at all. Our family is so fractured that at times I feel as though all we have is each other now. That thought terrified me the other day. I love her so much, I need her more than any other person in the world; what if she was gone? I quickly put away the unthinkable thought and the unimaginable loneliness I would have. Then I remembered others I know who are living life in that lonely state. This moved me to thank God for the treasured wife he has given me and to pray for those who are grieving the loss of a spouse.
Nothing is the same but neither do I expect things to stay the same. There is something I want for my wife that I really haven’t wanted for myself. I want her to hold a grandchild for the first time and rejoice in the blessing of new lives added to the family. There will be a healing balm for her if and when that day ever comes. Nothing can replace lost loved ones but adding love to the family will be a welcomed day in our home. I have not wanted to be a grandfather because of love. To love deeply is to open myself up to potentially deep hurt again; a hurt I know all to well. But, I am over that now because of some wise words from my treasured best half. She said to me, “Mike, it is better to have loved deep than to never have loved.” I now welcome the thought of that day.
New beginnings are a wonderful thing. I remember our beginning so many years ago. I loved her but not like I love her today. We have lived, and are living the vows we made to each other that sunny fall day in 1988. I was reminded of my vows to her shortly after the death of my son and mother-in-law. We attended a young couple’s wedding overlooking Lake Michigan; they were not yet 21. It was refreshing to see a young man and woman step into a life together, it took me back to my youth. I listened to their vows and was immediately struck by what they were declaring to do. They have no idea what those vows mean, I thought. And I had no idea what those vows would mean down the road of our life either, but now I do. They vowed for better or worse, in sickness and in health without knowing what their future holds for them. I have known the better times, and I know the worse times and I “still do” till death do us part Stacey Lyn Fekete. You are a treasure to me.
“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of his life. (Proverbs 31:10-12 ESV)