“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
– C.S. Lewis
July 21st is a special day to me for two reasons: First, it’s my dad’s birthday (can’t believe he is 63 this year!) and second it is the day I proposed to Jaime. It’s been twelve years since that very humid evening, when I attempted to distract her as much as possible as to what her anniversary gift would be. We had been dating for two years and had been friends for seven, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had to marry this girl. At the time, I was substitute teaching, getting my bachelors degree, and working as a puppeteer with a local theater group. I saved and saved my money and finally was able to buy Jaime an engagement ring. I kept it hidden in the top shelf of my closet, waiting for the right time to pop the question. There weren’t too many people who were going to be surprised by my asking Jaime to marry me. That Monday evening, when I went to pick Jaime up for dinner, she gave me a scrapbook she had made entitled, “Memories of our Love.” Inside there were pictures from our seven-year relationship as well as clips from her journal, writing about this “boy” she was falling in love with. There have been many times that I have looked back at that gift – more so now that I look at it with Jaime as a sweet memory in my life. Well, you know how that story ends! I proposed to Jaime, she blessed me with a “yes,” and we set off on what would be a nine-year journey of daily living out our love for one another.
Not by coincidence, nine years later, on July 21st, Jaime was in the hospital. It was the day after her first round of chemo. We didn’t talk about the night I proposed – how long we just sat that night and held one another, talking and dreaming about the many years to come. Instead, we celebrated that Jaime had not had as much as nausea from her chemo, that she had successfully walked down the hall with a slimmer cane, and that although we were in a hospital room, we were together…all three of us.
I look back on that moment with natural sadness of all that I have lost. However, my tears are reflective as well. I couldn’t be too close to Jaime because she was in so much pain, but our hearts were closer than they had ever been. And just like nine years before, we talked about the future – although this time, we looked ahead to the reality that our story might not end the way we had hoped.
I think a lot about my daughter growing up. I pray for the man she eventually marries – and not only because she has such an “interesting” personality! All kidding aside, I pray that she and her husband will take those moments in life to just sit, put “self” aside, hold one another for hours, and dream about the future – regardless of where their journey takes them and how their story ends. Sadness and joy are partners for life and what a privilege it is to be loved and to love someone through both seasons.