I wonder if I’ll ever forget that moment. That phone call. That evening, sitting by the pool at my parent’s house, talking about American Beauty, interrupted. Life, interrupted. I had only spent days with her, maybe best counted in hours, hearing her deep-belly laugh as she shared stories about your childhood, now locked up somewhere in your heart and hers. Gone. She, along with a million unfinished moments, snatched from our lives in a vapor, our hearts still covered with the dew of what was, and all this, just three brief months before we married. Had it been a gust of wind, we might have seen it coming, blowing across the plains, rustling the trees, but there were no winds, only a vapor: one moment with us, planning the future, talking about grandchildren and dancing lessons, the next moment vanished, memories and dreams formed from mist. She was your mother, your heart and friend, the one who hid with you in a closet during childhood thunderstorms and who easily left the dirty kitchen just to sit and talk with you and your brothers. These were our first tears shared together, the two of us wailing (with family and friends) over what we always assumed we’d have, who we always assumed we’d have. That was the first, and still the greatest, loss in our marriage. But we have endured.
I smile now, as I think back to those early months of marriage, when the words sandwiched within that infamous passage about love (I Corinthians 13) tasted so sugary and palatable: bearing, believing, hoping, enduring. We choke them down these days, understanding their weight, their glory, receiving what Love has already done, rather than something we must muster up. And now, we’re suffering a great loss again, not the loss of a person, but the loss of expectation, the loss of things we always assumed would be, and we’re unraveling, as Yeats aptly writes, “turning, turning in the widening gyre . . . things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” Our fingers slide from our plans and expectations, and I wonder, is this not love? Enduring a great unraveling together? Allowing the One who calls himself Love to undo us through suffering? To reveal himself in our broken-ness, our ashes, our undone-ness? It sounded so much prettier clothed in a suit and white gown. Here, 11 years later we’re learning about the real Love buried beneath those charming descriptions. The messy, broken Love bought with blood, tears, and prayer.
In all our shambles, I’m grateful to endure the loss together with you. I love you.