The other day I sat beside an aging spouse who was struggling with the decision of nursing home placement for their beloved. I squeezed those fingers and offered encouraging words, but in the end, it was not my choice to make. That couple has been married longer than I have been alive. I bore witness to a breaking heart, to the reality of our frailty as human beings, to love with hands tied behind the back.
Yesterday morning, as the sun came up, we drove Teddy across the Ohio River for the surgery we had to cancel a few weeks ago. The fog settled into the dips of the earth and we drove through that white mist, ghosting down the road into the day. This child has had more surgeries than his parents have had combined and his good doctor joked with him that we “have to get you put together before they ship you off to college next year.” But no matter how many times I send him behind those heavy doors with the nurse, each time I kiss his forehead goodbye it feels like the first.
We waited an hour before they took him back, and his dad and I drove around the tired city of Huntington looking for breakfast for another hour. Then we waited a couple more hours in the waiting room before we could see our son again. Teddy always has a bad reaction to the anesthesia, so we waited another couple hours before he felt he could handle the drive home. Then it was pain and nausea and vomiting all yesterday afternoon and last night.
I remember the day this boy-child was born—how the doctor placed him in my arms and he looked up at me with milk-blue eyes, quiet but intent. I fell in love. I looked at his father differently that day, in amazement that we had created this miracle together. I remember wondering how people ever fall out of love after experiencing the beauty of new life together this way.
Time has a way of forgetting those revelations. Time and the stress of living. Love grows cool and settles into the dips of the earth like mist, like vapor ghosting through the moments. But life has a way of bringing us back to those moments, if only we listen. If we pay attention, life will tell us about what love really is. Whether it’s sitting on the bed contemplating putting your spouse in a nursing home, or watching your husband smooth your son’s red hair out of his eyes as he fights nausea.
Yesterday, I remembered. I listened to the moments.
And love flashed bright and new again.