remembering this, this week…
When the Farmer slumps against the door frame, slides to the floor, mumbles that he needs me to take him to Emergency, I nod mute.
I haven’t the faintest idea how I’m going to get him there.
In that exact moment, four of our six children wage desperate tummy revolts. I shuttle to each squirmish with cold cloths, courage words, a prayer whispered in the ear of the weary and I keep breathing and I keep thanking that I alone am well, here, willing.
Sickness can unveil a healthy love.
The Farmer’s six foot frame trembles, his lips purple blue, his skin ashen. He writhes and shudders, the flu turning him limp green from the inside out. He lays on the floor, waiting for me, the help meet, to help.
I must clear the head, I must think.
I do what wise women do. I call my mama.
It’s 12:30 am and I don’t know if Mama sleeps, but she answers on the second ring and I remember my manners and I say please. Yes, she’ll come, she’ll take him, she’ll be right there.
Wisps of her white hair peeking out from under her hat, she slips in here in the black of a winter night. His bulk leans on her white age and she helps him to her car. I stand at the window, their headlights threading away.
I tend to babies here. I think of him and Mama there.
I wipe a little one’s curls from the sticky sick damp of her forehead. It’s nearly three a.m. and she’s been hours and still she fights. I gaze into her little face, her sad blue eyes begging mine for relief, and I stroke her hair and I give her all I have.
“I so love you.”
Her little fevered hand pats my cheek.
We are face to face.
She whispers it quiet.
“And we’ll always be together, ‘cause we love and ‘cause of heaven and ‘cause of Jesus.”
She closes eyes tired. I cup her face long.
This is it, all that is eternal, all that will endure time and winds and all the ages. Heaven and Jesus and love.
They may not etch today’s accomplishments on memorial stone, but the thing is granite erodes anyways. And quiet people know it so we get up every day and we make the porridge and wash the underwear and pay the bills and tend to the hurting and we etch the love on the hearts, that which beats on without end and we pulse throughout the universe.
There’s a way to do work that lasts forever. Just do everything with love.
Mama brings the Farmer home in the dark still, and IV and Gravol and grace have won the war and he drags weak to bed. I keep the night vigil.
In the morning, he tells me that the doctor who nursed his mama when she was dying of leukemia had been the doctor on call last night, who held his arm while the nurse poked.
The nurse kept asking him if he wanted his mother to come in from the waiting room and he didn’t say that woman who had brought him was his mother-in-law, his own mama now gone home to heaven and Jesus and love.
At noon, my mama brings chicken soup to the sleeping house. I tell her we can’t thank her enough, for her night coming and night carrying and night Christ-likeness. And she reaches out and touches my cheek and she says it fervent.
“But he is my son. I love him.”
And when one dies, the love doesn’t, and love carries on in the heart of another and the love of the Son heals the sick of this world.
Mama, she drives home.
And I ladle out her soup.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing….
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away…
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ~ 1 Cor. 13
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