And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:13
"We fell in love on this block of land we have lived on for the last sixty years," a woman shared with me this morning. "You know that building just behind our house? It has 1927 on the top of it? It was in the doorway of that building he told me that he loved me. I was only eighteen years old. It was the first time anyone ever told me they loved me. Other than my family. You know what I mean?"
Pointing to her husband who was born in 1931, in the back of this building that served as both a business that sold household goods, and housed a young couple who was provided a bedroom and ketchenette in the back, he started life in that building. She laughed as she compared the shape of the building to that of her husband today.
"He has lived on this block his whole life. His family ended up buying enough land behind the building to build this house. I have lived in this house since 1956," she continued.
Her husband, my patient, smiled as she told of their love story. "He had a blue dodge that matched his eyes."
As I often do with couples that I meet, I ask them what it was like falling in love with one another. It doesn't matter what the age of the couple, you can generally discover that somewhere the two met, fell in love, and the rest? Well, you know...
Sometimes there are, "happily ever afters," and then some, "a little harder to explain."
She smiled big as I asked her husband if it was hard chasing after her? The grin he made told the story. His eyes, now heavy from years of the Texas sun shining on them as he built houses throughout the day, watered up, and he shares, "She stopped just long enough."
Their's has been a difficult, "Happily ever after." The two share a common chord that is tuned by their love for one another. The laughter, the sadness, the memory loss, and the inability to even take and hold one another's hands, now is a melody that softly is leading him away from her as he lays dying.
"It's been a good life," she says, "and I already miss him so much."
Love stories and life. There is no exact science, just as there is no science to the art of dying. Love simply is love. It is our human nature, just as living and dying.
"I'm so glad she stopped long enough for you to catch her," I tell him.
"Me, too," he struggles to say as he pats his hand on his chest, just above his heart.
I often find that I discover something very sacred in these moments. A memory creates an emotion that encapsulates the sacredness, and somehow we are made whole. I understood their love story in the two sentences he spoke.
As scripture reminds us in a simple statement, "God is love." So that love is with each of us.
The Psalmist who reminds us that, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow after me," reminds us that God is pursuing after us and simply waiting for us to stop.
In that moment the love that surpasses all understanding becomes ours.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.