Mistakes, Wisdom and HEDs

I enjoy reading the comments made by readers of this blog and some of the more generous ones have included things like, “you need to write a book”. In the unlikely event that a book ever happens it would most likely include a chapter entitled “What NOT to do for a successful marriage”. 

Dec. 92

Libby and I both made lots of mistakes in our marriage but after Libby’s miscarriage I feel like I became an expert on what not to do in a relationship.  Men (and women too) sometimes think they are helping the situation when we say things following a miscarriage including “You can always try again”, or ” You’re still young and you have plenty of time to get pregnant again” appearing to imply that what happened is just an inconvenience and the best thing for everyone is to forget about the past and to get back to “normal”. Hindsight can be a cruel teacher and it has taught many of us to treat a miscarriage the same way you would treat the death of any child.

If only our brains came standard with a USB port tucked in behind our right ear so we could easily transfer these lessons learned into the minds of young people because it is a lesson that, like so many others in life, is learned after the fact, usually when it is no longer needed.

I wasn’t much help later when Libby battled depression for over a year following the miscarriage because I didn’t really know how to handle the situation.  Now, I will admit that a depressed Libby was more upbeat than 90% of “regular” people, but her close friends and family knew it was struggle for her during that time after we lost Adalynn.  Added to everything else, Libby felt like she was a bad mother because the boys slipped out of the house without her knowledge and could have easily been hit on that busy road.

The new house and property presented lots of challenges and opportunities while it opened up a Swiss Family Robinson type world for two adventurous boys as we built go-cart trails, tree houses, bridges, zip lines, and forts. There were trees to climb, camp sites to build, creeks to dam up and plenty of mud to track in on mom’s new white berber carpet.  When the boys were in high school our house was used to hold birthday parties, host cross-country parties, build homecoming floats and set off HED’s (Homemade Explosive Devices).  Several times our back yard was turned into a Hollywood back lot where the boys and their friends filmed several movies including war movies which took advantage of the campsites, creeks, trails and HED’s simultaneously.

Libby and I had the goal from the beginning to provide a place where our boys and their friends wanted to play, instead of taking them to someone else’s house. One of the oddest conversations that I ever heard in our house was Libby innocently explaining to some parents that, yes, sometimes our boys built bombs, but they were only allowed to set off very small ones by themselves because we had a firm rule that all large concussion bombs and fireballs required at least one adult to be present.

Both the new property and house were a hit with our boys and, as it turns out, therapeutic for their mom.  With time and some wise counsel, Libby got through her time of depression and we “got our Libby back”. Although most people would never have guessed that her feelings of inadequacy were always hovering just below the surface, they would sometimes sneak up on her, overshadowing God’s promises, as she would make comments such as: “I feel so unworthy that I’m not sure that I am even going to go to heaven”, a comment that caused many of our friends to respond in unison with this proclamation: ” If Libby Gilley is not going to heaven then the rest of us might as well give up, because we have no chance.”  Still others made more crude responses, equating those chances to that of a snowball surviving in an extremely hot location.

4 thoughts on “Mistakes, Wisdom and HEDs

  1. Anonymous

    Great chapter, Barry! Keep it up! Hope reliving these memories helps you as much as it helps the rest of us! Seeing Libby as “human” is almost unbelievable, since most of us viewed her as an angel! We will always miss her, as I’m sure you will, but reading your stories brings warmth & comfort!


    1. Anonymous

      Not having known Libby personally or seeing her but a couple of times, I am enjoying getting to know her in your stories. So far I can tell she had a lot of traits the “Willis’es” were and are known for – and I’m proud to be kin to her. Keep writing as I love reading your memories.


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