I spent some time this week with my ideal woman. I brought her some lunch. A salad, snacks, peach tea and some flowers from Central Market. Delivered by a sweaty, tired me to the hospital room she occupies with her husband. He's the one in the hospital gown and the cranked up bed.
I've known her (I'll call her Julie M.) casually for several years. Mostly through her daughters - who moved, with flair, through my church children's ministry. These girls are a testimony of some pretty inspired mothering - their wide-eyed innocent trust, their bed-rock assurance, their humor and compassion - all cause me to smile when I think of them.
From a distance I've watched her navigate the waters of an increasingly debilitating brain tumor - numerous surgeries, lengthy hospital stays and treatments, a cane, a walker, a wheel chair - with her husband.
This week I watched Julie M, with grace and as she does every day, fulfill what we all promise when we get married - the 'in sickness and in health' part. Much of the man she married isn't now visible to my eyes - but I don't think what I see is what she sees.
- she touched him, held his hand, brushed his hair off his forehead at every opportunity
- she advocated for him passionately with a nurse about a medication she didn't think he needed
- she spoke to him tenderly and patiently when he was agitated and unable to make himself understood
- a private joke or two passed between them
- she proudly introduced him to an old grad-school friend who dropped by
- his eyes followed her everywhere
- she hadn't been home, had a shower, seen her girls or slept in a bed in several days - but she was incredibly beautiful
- she treated my tired salad and watery tea like it was a banquet
- her eyes were too far past exhausted to twinkle but they had this deep, peaceful, abiding .... something....in them
- when I turned my eyes away during a minor medical procedure she smiled at me and said that love makes a lot of things possible that you thought you would never be able to do
I feel pretty certain that as she is carrying out that part of the marriage vows few of us are called upon to, she is also experiencing something few of us do.
I am awed by Julie M., and by what love is making possible.