Four years ago, Coleman took my hands, looked me in the eyes and promised to love me forever. He asked me to marry him, and I said yes, and he slipped a ring on my finger.
Today, he promised again to love me forever, and he slipped my wedding band and engagement ring back on my finger, the swelling in my hand finally come down, and my rings able to fit.
Coleman has upheld his promise, every day, through wonderful moments and terrible ones. These last weeks have been incredibly hard, harder than either of us imagined or were prepared for. He has cared for me through my suffering and suffered alongside me – in many ways I can barely imagine his suffering and think it might be greater. Watching the ones you love suffer is hard.
The promise to love forever is a romantic one, made on a moonlight night in a beautiful garden. And it is made again and again in daily moments, as he changes my dressings and helps me dress, as he feeds me, and holds the bucket when I throw up, as he holds me steady to and from the car, back and forth to the hospital again and again and learns to drive my wheelchair, pushing through halls that have healed us and left us traumatized at the same time. It is chosen again and again when he gets up in the night to help me to the bathroom, when he brushes back my hair and washes my face, when he held my hands and prayed and prayed during long hospital nights, and as he whispered to me that it was okay to let go, that we all have limits, and having reached mine, it was okay to let go, and let Jesus carry me, through the suffering, or home to heaven, I could let go and rest in His arms.
It is a love that has sustained me and strengthened me in these last weeks and days. Yesterday, we returned to the hospital, and the last weight, the last anchor tethering me to the trauma endured in an effort to hold cancer at bay, a catheter drain, a tube inserted through my pelvis into my abdomen to drain out infected fluid built up post surgery, was finally, FINALLY, removed, and I wept for joy to have this chapter comes to a close.
It feels fitting then that this new chapter, this new day is an anniversary, a reminder of another new chapter we once started.
The promise to love forever is not a light one. It is heavy, a daily choice weighing on our hearts, burdening us to love the other, first, well, as God loves us.
And that’s the miracle. He loves me as Jesus does. The love of God is made real and tangible to me in the love of my husband; as Coleman chooses daily to love me, I feel Jesus come close.
Three and a half years ago, Rev. Brad Heinrichs placed his hands on our heads as he blessed us during our wedding, as we were made husband and wife. That blessing and benediction is what I feel in Coleman’s daily love for me. The Lord’s hands on our heads, blessing us as we choose to live out the promise we made first four years ago: to love each other forever.