31 March 2008

The Look~

I love how she looks into the camera. Looks at me with laughter in her smile and that little gleam of adventure in her eyes. Her hands clasped, but not tightly. Just enough to let her know that she still has a hold on life. Note the little finger, the one that's a bit separated from the rest. One might say that she is beginning to relax and enjoy what life is bringing her way. You'd never know that just a little over two years ago her world fell apart. Changed. Forever. The future was rewritten.

They were high school sweethearts. He didn't just love her, he adored her. They married, he joined the Air Force, and they traveled. Saw places most of us only dream of seeing. Visited ruins and castles. Brought two beautiful children into the world. A boy, named after his father, and a daughter. A perfect family. There are no perfect families. Each have their own trials. Children move through the teenage years, finances get tight, and so on.

Throughout it all, though, they pampered each other, supported each other, and lived to help the other. They were close to the King and found such pleasure in their church family. They worshipped together. And it was so good.

The children grew up, married and moved away. Empty nesters now, he brought her breakfast in bed each and every Saturday. Those of us that knew and loved them would tease, wanting such treatment ourselves. And we watched the way he looked at her, following her with his eyes. We spoke, amongst ourselves, of the love that was so evident, so real, so absent in today's world. And they planned. They planned for their future,

their retirement and the golden years. Saving their money over the years, they'd managed to have almost enough to purchase a bed and breakfast ~ something they'd dreamed of over the years of traveling and staying in homes across the world. They were so well suited for it and we knew they would find not only success with this venture, but that they would delight in the strangers that crossed their threshold. Then,

he began to feel bad. For someone so healthy, so in shape, we worried. After too many tests, too many doctors, and too little time, a diagnosis was given. The news wasn't good. In fairy tales, it is. In the real world, it seldom is. And so they planned not for the golden years,

but for the years they would be apart. Now living each day became a challenge. So much to do, and so little time. For him, it was to make sure she would be well taken care of, that she understood how the household would need to be maintained, and he tried, oh how he tried, to prepare her. She lived trying to make it easy for him, being strong for him, letting him know each and every moment how she loved him, had loved him, and would always love him. They took a last trip together, to Canada, to a quaint bed and breakfast and fell in love all over again, as if it were the first time. And we watched.

We watched as they both withered away. He with the cancer, and she with the ever present knowledge that he was leaving. And so he did, on New Year's Eve, 2005. She woke the first day of a new year without him. And we celebrated his life with a memorial service in the middle of a raw and cold January. And our hearts stung from the unfairness of it all. They, who were so in love, so true to each other and to their feelings, to be separated so soon. More than one of us would have traded places with him. He left this earth, and she woke each morning without him.

The first year was harder than she ever thought it could be. Staying busy, staying focused, wondering how she would get up the next morning. But she did. She learned so much that first year without him beside her, in the physical sense of the word. He did well in preparing her for this, but how do you teach someone to live without you. How do you really teach that? And she grew.

Slowly, day by day, she began to draw strength from the memories and, dropping the cloak of heaviness, she allowed Him to wrap her in comfort and guidance. Once again, she began seeing the beauty and freshness of Life that had dimmed with the news of his illness. She found that laughing didn't mean he was forgotten, that smiling at another didn't mean she was disloyal, and that life doesn't stop with dying. We who knew them know that he would be so proud.

So she looks at me, with laughter in her smile and that little gleam of adventure in her eyes. Her hands are clasped, but not tightly. Just enough to let her know that she still has a hold on life. She is happy. She is strong. And she plans.


Jenny said...

What a beautiful and moving tribute!

Kelly said...

Ok, a warning would have been nice. ;o) That was so beautiful. And sad...

Kristen said...

Wow jenny was right, that was very beautiful and VERY moving. i had no idea. Your an magnificent writer!!