Saturday, July 23, 2011
What love looks like.
I realized he was the age I am now when she entered his life. He had been lonely for a while, had been to dark places in his mind and felt his heart would never know love again.
On their first date he took her a red rose.
They shyly introduced each other as "my sweetheart".
Their children, all in their teens and twenties, began to accept each other as siblings. Then they began to have grandchildren. The two of them became "Pa" and "Mammy". They became ever more happy.
When they had time and the day began to cool, they would walk the boundary fences of the farm. Talking, laughing or maybe just being silent, holding hands as they walked beneath the glorious sunsets.
He built a porch on the side of their home. This is where they would sit in the mornings drinking coffee together peacefully, watching as does and fawns emerged from the woods to greet the light of morning.
She would jump into his truck in her jeans and flip flops, not caring what she wore or that her hair would get messed up as they roared down country roads. She just wanted to be with him and he was glad.
They planted gardens, harvested the yield and cooked and canned it together in their kitchen, laughing and joking. They sneaked in hugs and kisses between the beets boiling and the corn roasting on the grill.
She kept their home clean and orderly, not letting chaos into their lives, tossing out stuff with no meaning, letting in only that which was beautiful and precious.
Together they carved out happiness despite setbacks and worries. He preached in a church that needed them. He built onto it and she was happy to help in any way she could. She attended every Sunday she didn't work, singing and praising God as he stood behind the pulpit, telling of his love of Jesus, a humble man doing a mighty work.
Too soon though, a shadow crossed their path. It loomed larger and larger until finally it had a name. Cancer. Together they fought it. So many treatments. So many pills. So many tears.
But even through this dark time, she stayed. She walked with him when she could. She held his hand. Together they laughed and prayed and cried. She brought her radiant smile into his darkened room every day. She kept the children, grandchildren, siblings and church family strong and believing in a miracle by her example of faith and perseverance. She taught us to have faith despite all odds.
When the Cancer got worse, she did not stray from her faith or from him. Every moment she stayed by his side. Helping him to face the inevitable. Calming his fears, drying his tears, holding his hand. She called the family and let us into their intimate world, that thin place where Life and Death stood shoulder to shoulder, waging war over his body but not his soul because she reminded us again an again, his soul belonged to Jesus. And we knew his heart belonged to her.
On the day he died, she was there. Holding him, whispering prayers, loving him and finally telling him it was okay to go, she would go on even as her own heart was breaking, shattering into a million pieces with a pain sharp as glass, tears flowing down her face, bright trails of sorrow.
He left this world surrounded by love and prayers and went Home to his Maker. She went home to an empty house where their love had lived and grown into something bigger than all of us could fathom. She went back to work. She cleaned the cabinets, swept the floor. She kept chaos at bay. She goes on even now, showing us again what Grace and Mercy look like in action. She continues to be an example of Faith. She is bravely walking into the void, holding tight to memories, carving out a different life than she had planned, holding strong even as she cries.
She lives her life as a beacon of light to the rest of us. She is what Love looks like.