It’s true, you’re the first man I ever kissed, but beginnings aren’t ever really the most important part.
The mattering always comes after the persevering, a life time later and at the end, when there’s that last leaning close, the last brushing of the stubble and the scent of your skin, that last lingering kiss.
How much older, life-lined will you be then than now?
Even now you’re already so much more perfectly life-lined than when we were 16 and after all those Sunday afternoon dinners, your Mama serving chicken casserole and double helpings of cherry cheesecake, there was that glancing moment, too close, leaning for that one lost ping pong ball, and I laughed, nervous and awkward and reaching, and you pulled me close like you knew what forever looked like and my heart pounded terrified, and you cupped my face and you’ve never misused that trust once. Do you know what that’s meant to me, the trust not broken?
So is there some kind of guarantee that when it comes to that last kiss, we’ll both be all wrinkled, the life wrung right out of everything that we were given?
Some kind of guarantee that we’ve taken every second helping of love we could and we haven’t missed what could have been?
Yet who’s to say we have to be old to have made deep laugh lines, to have seized every single one of the days for all they were worth, priceless, and I know, that’s the only guarantee, the grace for what we are given right now.
Why haven’t I spent the last 16 years of marriage losing more ping pong balls that we could hunt down together so we could find each other?
Why haven’t I laughed more? I could give you this.
It’s taken decades but there comes finally this: It’s never the length of a life that’s important—- only the the depth and the breadth. How will you ever know how you have deepened and widened me in Him who has no end, how you’ve tenderly opened me right up to grace? Are there words for what has happened between us? The way your laughter has lifted us and you’ve shown me how to fly?
Do you remember on our honeymoon, how you said it was like Adam and Eve all over again? I can’t believe you were so young, so patient, and I have thought of you saying that a thousand times, how you’ve cultivated our lives and walked with Him in the cool of the evening and made even me bloom just a bit.
And you’re right, life’s not a library that sends out notices in the mail for due dates or bad days and no one tells you what day you have to really be ready for — the day the house blows away, the day you don’t come home but go Home, the day there’s a lump and a scan and the numbing bad news that makes us cling to gospel and truest good news.
Who knows if we’ll even know then it’s the last brushing of lips, the last brushing and meeting of all our unspoken words and prayers and everything we’ve ever murmured in the dark? I must remember this.
How do I live intentionally enough, purposefully enough, to be ready for that kind of day? This is the thing, now while there’s time: I need to rub your feet more and ask you to sit with me more evenings on the swing, and make more chocolate forest cakes because if I don’t, who’s going to do this love for you?
I know — all these words for a man of few words, who has said little but made his life say much, always the more eloquent one with your hands and your knees. Isn’t that the way with all the honest words — that the words soundlessly are made into flesh and then simply transcribed from actions, arms, from the one drumming pure heart. Your back has been the poem.
The only man you want to give your life to is one who makes you hunger for Christ, believe in Grace, experience the other-world love of God.
I would give my life to you all over again tomorrow.
I’d lean there at the altar, blushing before you grinning, the butterflies before the brushing close, the beginning all over again, me certain to make more cake…
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