To capture the memories of when our family had one more member, would be like trying capture a star and contain its light in a jar, impossible. There are so many memories shining in the dark skies above our home. The Westminster chimes sing about midnight, and I know… it is going to be a long night.
The slide show begins in my head, runs to my heart and finds a home in my very soul. At first it is fuzzy, like an old home movie show. But I think I detect a wisp of a girl in white and a boy, who is much more a man than she a woman, standing hand in hand before God, a sanctuary full of people and an altar. The picture is becoming clearer, and there is sound. I can hear sincere promises… for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, til death parts us. Then it is as if there is a camera, panning from one scene to another. Homemade Christmases and small children gleefully playing in handmade clothes. She thinking she is rich, and he thinking they were poor, simply because he wished to give them more than they had. Scene after scene of children being brought into this world, tears of joy. Years of ups and downs and triumphs and defeats. Raising children, standing beside each other as battles were fought and when Jesus brought victories. As I watch memories, like the stars in the heavens go in and out of focus, I sense something is happening. Yes, something new enters the memories slide show. Something shadowy and a stillness creeps in. I lost the sense of sound, I can only see pictures. A girl, now a woman, and a man who will always be her boy. They are holding hands again, but this time the sanctuary is empty and the prayer and promises whispered there are deeper then the vows. They are the vows in action, those made two decades before. That promise, “in sickness and in health,” that is the one being challenged in this scene. There are tears and silent words only the eyes and heart could speak. And as they move down the aisle, the focus becomes very acute, man and wife for sometime now, their promises like pictures deeply carved into their souls. Cancer, threatened all they were and had become. How does cancer play into a love story? Then there is a fog and lack of clarity. Scenes move by, covered in tear drops. And as I wipe some of them away, I can see this couple, one never far from the other. The man crying out to God, with a Bible on his lap, preparing himself for battling sickness, he longs for health. A woman who feels so small, in the next scene, laying on the floor, locked in her room, praying and crying for her beloved’s health. A few more hazy scenes, and a sudden, stark clarity…. the scene where the father shared his sickness with his children. Tears now cloud the scene, and no manner of wiping them makes this picture any clearer. It seems the pictures are quickly flashing by, friends and family fill the picture. Bringing encouragement and love that can be seen and felt. Deep dark shadows are prevented from entering these pictures. Flashes of surgeries and hospital stays and tears and visitors and chemo, whizz by as if in fast forward. I cannot seem to control the pace of these pictures. Now I see the camera pan across a calendar, it is November 2014. I see a hospital again and a see the man in grave danger. The woman feels like a girl, as she runs to her Father’s arms again and again. I see heart-break and tears, hidden behind a stoic face. And there she is in a waiting room alone curled up in a ball, and there she is again in a hospital room laying on a bed as close to her boy as possible. The picture is incredibly clear now. Doctors speaking and nurses in and out. And now there is sound again, I hear a doctor saying, “he doesn’t have long.” And I hear the girl, find a supernatural voice beyond her own strength, saying, “let us take him home.” Then there was a doctor holding the man’s hand, assuring him he’d fought the good fight. Now I see them in their home. Children all around, dear family and friends near by. And…. this man became and evangelist, sharing and shining Jesus. Though not wanting to leave his family, I see him knowing his home is heaven. Every word seems to be laced with hints of heaven. And though his body seems fragile, his heart, soul and mind are expressing powerful messages. The girl, though deeply saddened, knows a love in the promise so long ago, “til death parts us.” And she holds on to every moment, wanting him to know her promises are true. She seems to know it is only a temporary parting though, because as he lay in his bed she whispered in his ear, “Jesus loves you.” To which I hear him answer, “I know, He is telling me all kinds of things.” Then, I see the room darken as the sun goes down, and the friends and family go home. It is just a faithful group of three. The girl crawls in the hospice bed beside him, and holds his hand, until… death parted them, temporarily, as the sun painted the sky a rosey pink.
The memory picture show finished. I sat wishing those memories where tangible and I wish his hand back in mine. We were, and are still, one. I know my home is secure, heaven is waiting for me someday. I will know Jesus and see my beloved again. Until then I must live, not hide my heart in the death of my beloved one. It has been a long night, walking through the memories, watching the pictures of this journey. My beloved one lives in heaven, and I have treasures in the memories of who we are because we knew him and held his hand and experienced the promise of his vows in person.