I was married young; and when you’re young in age you view things more passionately. I am positively convinced as I look back on my thoughts when I was first married – or when I view my oldest - just starting out her adult life – that the young adults do not just live life – they feel life.
I felt life when I was first married. I remember on our honeymoon feeling my cheeks actually ache from smiling so much. I was so happy. I was so happy to be married to my best friend – happy to have someone to laugh with – and to have promised my whole life to – forever. I was feeling life.
One of the new experiences that I loved was sitting next to my new husband in church. I would love it when he would put his arm around my shoulder during the service. I would feel his hand on my arm – smell his cologne and I felt like right about at that moment I was the happiest girl in the auditorium! I loved how he would grab my hand while we were singing congregational songs, or how he would put his hand on my back as I got into the car. Every touch was a new experience.
As a new bride, I would look at the older married couples and watch as they would sit next to each other in church. Some never even held hands. Some never even acknowledged one another. I wondered how that could be. I remember promising myself that I would never grow tired of him touching me. I would always enjoy feeling his arm around my shoulder or him grabbing my hand as we bowed our heads in prayer. I vowed that I would NEVER take it for granted.
I was young.
We are now one of the older married couples in the church. We have been in that category for some time now. My Sunday mornings are filled with making sure the little’s have gone to the restroom before the service starts, the older kids are sitting where they are supposed to be sitting and I am in my place in choir when I need to be. My time is busy making sure that all the kids HAVE their Bibles with them and writing notes to myself on which child I need to talk to that afternoon about not having her Bible – or chewing gum inappropriately – or… the list goes on. I am the Mom checking the hearing aid of her son – and wondering why he is talking so loud and if the people behind us cringe when they see us come and sit in our pew. I am the church member doing a quick check of the bulletin to see if I have nursery that morning – because the last time I had it – I forgot and someone had to take my place. !Horror! That is my Sunday morning.
There are some Sunday mornings I am so busy with all of the other things that I hardly even notice when he takes my hand as we bow for prayer. I don’t take in the smell of his cologne as he puts his hand over my shoulder – and he can’t pull me close anymore – because I am bending over one of my children telling her that she needs to stop talking in church. (She talks ALL the time – ahh!)
When I was first married and a new bride I would stand by the window and wait Rob to come home. I would open the door and greet him with a kiss and tell him that I was glad to see him. We would hold hands as we prayed at dinner time, and we did dishes together. My life revolved around his and I loved it that way. Then the kids came. There was dinner burning on the stove top and a baby crying in her swing – I did not greet him at the door as often as I had before. Now there are kids in the driveway yelling for Dad to watch the new trick that they have been practicing on their bike. They wait for him now – and I try to get the table set so we can get dinner dishes done before it gets too late. I call them in and tell them to hurry up and get washed up before dinner gets cold. I peck him on the cheek and ask him about his day - not waiting for his response because I have to get that bread out of the oven.
It’s our everyday life.
We left the office where we heard the news and as we were walking out to the car – I grabbed his hand in mine; and for the first time in years I FELT his hand. I felt how strong it felt and how easily it fit within mine.
Since we heard the word cancer – I have felt every single touch. Every day he comes home from work I listen and take it all in. I listen to his voice as he talks to the kids; and I close my eyes and take it in. I take dinner off the stove – no need to keep cooking – he’s home and there is another chance for me to kiss him and tell him that I’m glad he’s home. He wraps me in his arms tightly and we stand there – me with my head on his shoulder – him with his head resting on the top of mine. We pause and take in each other.
Cancer has made me realize anew just how precious life is. Every touch, every look , every homecoming.
Life is more precious since we heard the word cancer.
We have watched more sunsets since the diagnosis. We have held hands together more. It’s funny – we will be sitting on the couch together reading books – Rob on his end of the couch – me on mine; and as we sit there he reaches over to the center of the couch and I reach over too. We hold hands as we read – him in his world, me in mine; but connected to each other by touch.
I sit next to him in church on Sunday and feel his arm around my shoulder. I really feel it – I feel drawn into his side – and I take it in. I close my eyes and breathe a prayer of thanks to God for another week – another Sunday; and I petition Him to give me many more.
Ann Voskamp put it this way: “When you wake to losing someone, you win love. When you realize that what you have you will lose, you win real eyes, you win grateful joy.” And while I don’t know if I “will” lose Rob to cancer – I know that I could – and that has opened my eyes to a whole new paradigm of life.
Cancer lives within his body and everyday it is evident to me that he is sick; and while cancer is destroying cells inside of him – and possibly spreading to other places in his body it has grown our love for each other.
Cancer has made us realize just how wonderful our life really is. Cancer has made us put aside the petty and focus on the important. The importance of being together, holding hands, listening to the kids tell us about their days. Cancer has given us a rare look at what matters in our life.
For that I am extremely grateful!