To My Valentine

tlt-elderly-couple-walkingTwo are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)

My alarm beeped at 4:30 a.m. Rising stiffly, I carefully straightened my back. The pain of the previous few days had lessened. Thank God.

“Hey, you’re moving,” my husband said.

“And I’m actually standing up straight instead of bent like a pretzel.”

My husband turned on the light and slowly stood.

“Goodness,” I said. “If we’re like this at our age, how are we ever going to make it to *Ted and *Lena’s age?” (*Names changed.)

“I know. He’s 30 years older than I am,” my husband said.

Ted and Lena are elderly. They’ve been through many surgeries over the years and they’ve always been able to lean on each other. However, when we visited a few days before to let them know about my husband’s surgery, Ted complained that his legs were weak. Lena’s back is bent to the side and she walks with the aid of a cane. Previously, she had slipped on ice and grabbed for Ted. They both went down. It’s a wonder they were able to regain their footing. They support each other now as best they can.

While my husband showered, I gathered the last few items I would need to keep me occupied during his surgery. According to the doctor, the procedure wasn’t serious. The specialist assured us he’d performed many of these. Never the less, it could take 4 hours.

The surgery might be routine for the surgeon, but this was MY husband we were talking about and it wasn’t routine for him.

My thoughts spun around to other recent events. A friend’s husband had gone in for knee surgery. The unthinkable had happened. He died on the operating table.

For the umpteenth time I asked the Lord to watch over my husband and keep him safe; to guide the surgeon’s hands and give him wisdom.

In addition to all these swirling thoughts I worried about the forty-five minute drive to the hospital and the long day ahead. What if my severe back pain returned after sitting for hours in the waiting room? How in the world would I support my husband when we returned home? How would I get him up our stairs?

At that moment I wished someone would be there with us. We’d lived most of our married lives several hours away from family. It was unreasonable to expect any of them to come, especially not for routine surgery.

After indulging in a few seconds of self-pity I rebuked myself. Enough. This kind of thinking doesn’t help. It is, what it is.

Easy as breathing, I turned to prayer. Lord, I need you. Please be with me, today.

____________________

A kind of camaraderie exists in a surgical waiting room. I feel it the minute we enter to register. Those patients and families already seated greet us with a knowing nod.

Each family must be in this place for surgery. Why else would they be here in this pre-dawn darkness?

As we take our seats, their eyes skim across my husband and me—assessing us. They wonder which one of us will have surgery. I know that’s what they’re thinking because I’m thinking the same thing about them. Yet none of us breaks the silence. We don’t probe each other’s emotions.

One husband and his wife draw my attention more than the others. They’re many years older than we are. He sits very close to his wife with his arm protectively around her shoulder. Their gestures and familiarity indicate a lifetime of caring for one another.

His tenderness for her is the best Valentine’s Day card I’ve ever seen.

I want to put my arm around my hubby and protect him, too. But he doesn’t seem to need it. He appears to be his usual calm, easy-going self. It might embarrass him. So I reach for his hand instead.

______________________

About three hours later my husband’s surgery was over and it had been successful. The repair was made. Now the healing could begin. The only difficulty he had was coming out of the anesthesia afterward. He was kept overnight to recover. All my concerns about taking care of him while he was weak from the anesthesia were unnecessary.

Later that evening my husband’s older brother called. He’s also a pastor and he takes both roles seriously. So seriously in fact that he’d even offered beforehand to make the drive and be there for the surgery. After thanking him for the generous offer, my husband had told him it wasn’t necessary.

I reassured my brother-in-law that everything was fine.

He had one last question. “Was anyone there with you?”

“No,” I said. I heard the heaviness of regret in his voice when he said, “Oh.”

At the same instant a flash of recognition filled my mind. “Wait. Yes, there was someone. God. God was with me.”

Years ago when my husband and I said our marriage vows we promised to love each other in sickness and in health. In essence, we promised to hold each other up.

If the Lord allows, I hope we’re able to do that as long and faithfully as Ted and Lena with the same tenderness as that couple in the surgical waiting room.

Yes. As long as we’re able, that’s what we’ll do.

_______________________

tl-single-cream-roseUsually my husband buys me flowers for Valentine’s Day. Since he couldn’t this year I bought and arranged a bouquet. A single long-stemmed cream-colored rose surrounded by small purple flowers and greenery. I think they’ll share double-duty for this year quite well. After all, no one sends flowers for routine surgery.

So, here’s to you my dear husband. Happy Valentine’s Day . . . and . . . Get Well Soon.

________________________

Next year I promise to share a humorous story about Valentine’s Day. That is, if I remember. Did I promise that last year? Hmmm. Maybe I’m already a little like Ted and Lena.

Meanwhile, tell me how your day went. Or tell me about your valentine.

Until next time . . . Travel Light,
SuZan
© 2017 SuZan Klassen


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