Her ring has worn a groove onto her finger. Years of wear have etched themselves into that hand.
The same hand that carried me as a baby, put band-aids on my ouchies, cooked and fed me, turned the pages on the books that would birth a lover of the written word, and consistently pointed to God through her faithfulness.
The same hand that filled syringes, cleaned up vomit, produced warm blankets, and propped up my father as he got sicker and sicker. The same hand that held his as his breath escaped him and he closed his eyes for the last time. The same hand that still embraces that ring even though he is with the Lord now.
Today would be their 38th wedding anniversary. Although, he went to be with the Lord, November of 2010, that ring brings her both joy and sorrow just as it did when he was alive.
You could not find more opposite people. He was extroverted, charismatic, a natural-born leader and influencer. He was the idea guy, the quick wit, the guy at the party who makes everyone’s abs hurt from laughing. She is introverted, quiet, a natural-born servant doing dishes quietly at said party so the host isn’t burdened. And yet, it worked.
They weren’t so different where it mattered. They both loved God, they both knew they wanted a life in missions, that they would never really fit in here. That God had created a discontentment with living a “normal” life. That our family would be strange. Not me of course, but the rest of the lot.
That ring and the commitment that accompanied it brought sorrow in the many trials that would arise serving in ministry, in the pain and perseverance that it took to meld two opposites into one whose love would cover a multitude of sins. The daily forgiving and dying to self that it takes to make a marriage survive and thrive in the hostile environment of this world. Sorrow in the loss of him. The emptiness that aches in her. The absent presence creating a void like a phantom limb you still try to use.
But that ring also brought joy in the birth of two kids who would go on to love and serve God in the best way they know how. Joy in the intimacy shared after so many years, the knowing of each other in the deepest part of their souls where pretenses no longer exist. Where one’s flaws are evident, naked, and glaring and yet covered so perfectly in the love and commitment to each other. Joy in the inside jokes and stories collected, treasured, and spilling out in her mind to be both enjoyed and memorialized while the sorrow ebbs at the edges of her recollections. The stacks of photo albums chronicling a life well lived. Joy in the hope that this is not the end.
So I celebrate an anniversary today. Not just of the marriage of my parents but of the beginning of a course that would bring both joy and sorrow, the bitter and the sweet, the making of my brother and I , and a legacy that we commit to in our own marriages as we allow our rings to etch that indelible oneness as we glory in the foundation that was laid before us.
Happy Anniversary and thank you.