Yesterday would have been my silver wedding anniversary. I remember my parents’, it was the bicentennial and I was twelve. Twenty five years married! My twelve-year-old mind could hardly fathom it.
It’s a strange place to be, twenty five years out. The last two have been like a ghost, an outline of what used to be. I go to a singles dinner club in Denver, and sometimes feel like a butterfly, fluttering against the periphery of a solid group. The vast majority of singles my age are single by divorce or choice, very few admit to the companionship of Death in their lives.
I’m writing this from the shores of Silver Bay, the YMCA camp where Chris and I met nearly thirty years ago, still teenagers. Very little has changed, and a ghost of pleasant memories still haunts me here.
I bring my children, even in these melancholy days. Chris and I, like most, were creatures of marital habit. We came to Lake George every year for two weeks, and visited family, and stayed at the camp that has been in my family for generations.
Then family started to die. My father’s family all lived here in New York, and he was the baby. He just turned 92. First his older sister, she would be over a hundred now. Then his brother, and next, his sister. My mother’s only sister lived in Ohio, we lost her three years ago.
In a violation of created order, Chris was the next to leave, and then my mother, of course, last January.
(I have a neighbor next to our cottage on the lake. When I was seventeen, I had a mad crush on Richard, he taught me how to get up on two waterskis. He then invited me back to the cottage to smoke weed. Richard is a gentle soul, a Quaker. He and his common law wife saw twenty five years last year. He lost his dad the year before.)
In a place fraught with so much personal history, it would be easy to write it off. Too depressing, to sad to go back too, after all.
But life has this funny way of moving on. God is also still good, even to me, his most rebellious of children. In the downward arc of this depression, it would be simple to bottom out. But I keep getting gifts.
My son is in love. It just brings tears to my eyes, especially in this context. The object of his affections is a lovely girl, doing her best to honor God and her potential. Our discussions have been many and varied, and it is a joy to see him on the brink of this particular cliff.
My daughters are beautiful. Smart, directed, caring, turning into young women that God has designed them to be. So far.
My family is concerned. None of our times overlapped this year, and a dear family from NYC couldn’t come either. So they call, and encourage me, and gradually I can relax.
My friends call. This is perhaps the most startling gift of all, and the best evidence of God’s continued presence amidst melancholy days like today. Friends at work wonder how I’m doing, and wish me well. New friends like Jenny, a special gift from God, call just to check up. Remarkable, the love of the Father for weaklings like me.
20A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out
Our God is one of mercy, a fact which always takes me by surprise. It shouldn’t, because Jesus got discouraged and depressed too.
A reed a symbol of frailty and fickleness in the Bible, how appropriate. And how gentle, and kind of our Father to promise that Jesus will not break us during the weak and frail periods of our lives.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That’s Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 8.
Even in the lonely days, and lonelier nights, I am never alone. Thanks, Abba, Father.
Much love, and happy anniversary, sweetie.