Suddenly, thirty years of marriage seemed like a very short time. Our kids are grown and out of the house, and just last summer we “married off” the last one. We are enjoying our empty nest, and we treasure our time together. With the arrival of autumn, also comes those pesky annual checkups. You know, the ones where they tell you that you need to floss more and you need to eat less or your cholesterol is too high. We had just celebrated our anniversary when the phone call came. “We found a lump that we’re concerned about in your mammogram. Can you come see me in the office?”
The next two weeks were a blur of checkups, tests, and runaway emotions. I just wanted to hold my wife close and make it go away, but it wouldn’t go away. Our prayer life however, suddenly became very specific and very fervent. I remember thinking how permanent death is; and how we squander our healthy days with squabbles and disagreements over things that don’t even matter. The prospect of living through the golden years without my best friend was unthinkable. The only consolation was to keep reminding ourselves of the things we know about God. That He is for us, and he is gracious, compassionate, powerful, and able to heal. And even if He does not heal, he will give us the grace to walk through this valley together. And He will be with us.
Waiting is not my favorite thing to do. After the biopsy, it seemed like forever before the results came back. I carried the phone from room to room in case it rang, I didn’t want to miss it. When the call finally came with the results, the doctor used the word “preliminary”. Preliminary? What do you mean preliminary? But that was not the most important word he used. The word that seemed to split the heavens and roll back the clouds was the word benign. “Benign, benign, benign….that’s good! Benign is good. Benign means our prayers are answered. Benign means no surgery or chemotherapy. Benign means I’m still going to be the baldest one in the family. Benign means our golden years are still golden, and I get to keep my best friend.
The preliminary results were confirmed and reconfirmed and she now has a clean bill of health. Since then we hold each other a lot more. We wake up every morning thankful, and hopeful for the future. The minor irritations of life are suddenly unimportant. And we savor the companionship of marriage.
I don’t know why it sometimes takes a tragedy to make us treasure our spouse, but I don’t want to lose the sense of how short life is. Thirty years flew by like a vapor. Lord, help me be intentional with the next thirty. I promise I’ll floss more.