Today, I knew today was coming. A few days ago I couldn’t sleep because my mind was trying to do the math. Math, it’s not my favorite, I’m capable, I just prefer the other side of my brain. But in the middle of the night my mind kept trying to do the addition and subtraction of coming up with the solid number of days that you had walked this planet. Because I knew the same number of days was coming to me soon. You were supposed to be born on the day I was born, but you were in a rush to get here. I never added the days before I just estimated, you were about six weeks older than me. It’s 52 days. That’s how many days you are older than me.
You didn’t make it to my birthday, you stepped into Glory six days before my birthday. You had been planning to surprise me with friends who still came to be with me.
So you walked this earth a number of years and days. Today I experienced the same amount of time on this earth. I woke up this morning as the clock announced our wedding date. And I wrestled in bed praying and talking to you until I looked at the clock again -just a minute before those numbers that remind me to be grateful to be alive. And I watched the clock and waited for it to turn 5:21, and waited to be grateful. I wasn’t. I wrestled within, rose, kissed your pillow and started the day.
What do I do today? I just don’t know. I gathered journals and sat on the porch and asked you, “What do I do today?”
“Go pick your roses, they’ll bring you comfort while you sit here on the porch.”
So I walked up to your vineyard and watered my roses, and stood by them in silence, looking toward the island with the locust trees, the ones that remind me of the miracle of two people being invited to create another. Your parents and the miracle of your life.
A hummingbird sat on the fence in front staring knowingly at me.
“Watch me, follow me”, it’s eyes whispered. The little creature flew off to one tree and found the fragrant flowers hiding in the leaves, and then it flew to the next tree. Clearly tracking its flight, I watched it tie up all the locusts, your history, my history, this place, us together. Encouraging me to find the sweetness and the fragrance that’s hidden under the growth seemed to be its sacred mission.
I gathered my roses and I took them inside to take a picture holding them with my wedding hand.
Last night the kids worked on your Vineyard, and planted a vine that had been waiting. Then they moved the cabinet you had been building to surprise me into your wine cellar. They’ve all been working so hard to take care of me, and take care of what you worked on and I know you’re so proud of them. Their example of following what Christ did on the cross, making provision for his mom to be cared for, has been salve for my aching heart. (1)
As I shared with our son what today would be, I noticed just behind his ear, a beautiful little grape leaf with scrolling tendrils resting there. Your wisdom, your example, your instructions, lovingly reaching out for him to hear truth. (2)
So today I placed that little leaf inside the rose you told me to pick and it glowed from its heart, as the leaf and tendrils rested there breathtakingly beautiful. And you my love, forever there, shining your light into the depths of my heart, illuminating my soul with the godly love and faithfulness you gave me. (3)
I passed the day reading Experiencing Grief laid out under the locust trees, asking questions in the stillness, the breeze gently responding. It was a peaceful place to lament and to read words that were a comfort to my soul.
I want you back. I don’t like this story where you’re not here. I want you back for your children, your grandchildren, for this community, and most of all I want you back for me. Overhead, every locust leaf nods in agreement.
In the darkness, under the stars the minutes passed until I had been on this planet more time than you. I’ll walk the rest of my days being older than you, something I never imagined, never wanted.
I looked up in the night sky searching the heavens for comfort and waited for the wind to blow or a star to shoot.
A downpour of tears.
Out of the West emerged a plane making its way east; and I heard your contented sigh , your easy voice, your heart mellowed, the complete peace you would describe you would feel getting on a plane.
“ Ahhh, I know I’m leaving everything behind and I’m going to relax.” I would watch you melt into perfect peace.
I watched the plane disappear in the shadows of our intimacy and the mystery of Christ in us, the great opening up of our two hearts to the heavens, the great oak. Then from the east another plane broke into the night sky heading west, the two flight patterns drawing a cross on the glittering canvas. (4)
Our travels, our honeymoon flight, flights to Disneyland, our flights to see family in Italy, all glided through my thoughts. The care and comfort and delight that you intentionally gave to me, that you shared with me taking me to beautiful places embraced the storm in my soul.
The ethereal cross in the sky was enough for my broken bleeding heart to believe you will keep taking me beautiful places in my spirit.
Weak and exhausted from the day, I curled up into a tiny ball to rest inside your heart, inside your soul, inside the intimate oneness that is ours. And I heard you sigh and say “ I Love you” and felt your kiss brush my lips.
And I breathed in the cool breeze that blew over your pillow, one day older, one day closer to you. (5)
1)“When Jesus saw his mother there and the disciple whom he loves standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman here is your son’, and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disable took her into his home.” The Gospel of John 19:26,27
2)“Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” Proverbs 1:8 “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.” Proverbs 3:1,2
3)”.. The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:17,18
4)``Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God“. Hebrews 12:2
5) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I’m going there to prepare a place for you.” The Gospel of John 14:1,2