Let me do this month all over again.
Let me try again, God.
Can’t we get it right this time?
But time machines don’t exist. We can’t press rewind on life. We can’t go back and change the course of history. And we can’t deny or shame God for what He’s allowed. There isn’t a simple magical formula for going back and erasing all the things we’d rather not have experienced in life.
But we can embrace the mystery. We can trust, hope and believe that good can and will come from anything. We can relive moments and see beauty in all things. We can choose to live what we love, and love what we live.
I’ve learned so much about love on this journey through eye cancer.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and my husband’s still upstairs in bed resting from last week’s radiation and hospitalization. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and he still has to wear an eye patch and shield whenever he sleeps (which is still most of the time). Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and my husband won’t be able to pick up our baby girl and spin her around because she’s too much weight for the stitches in his eye. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and we won’t know if the tumor is shrinking until June. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and we won’t be celebrating with flowers, romantic rendezvous, sexy lingerie or 50 Shades of Grey.
Yes, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. We’ll enjoy a special meal out…as family. We’ll send the kids away…to their bedrooms. And we’ll hunker down quiet…on the couch. My husband with his eye patch, and me with my fleece pajamas and fuzzy socks. We’ll watch some romantic flick I chose from Redbox, and if we’re lucky, we’ll enjoy a glass of wine or champagne before we fall asleep all too early.
When we wake up the next morning, when we transition into the next two weeks of my husband working from home, we’ll remember the love we’ve shared and the love we’ve been shown. And we’ll know, more than ever, what true love is.
Love is patient.
Love is sitting for hours on end in waiting rooms and hospital rooms. Love is remaining silent while you watch a loved one come out of anesthesia. Love is caring for kids when a loved one simply can’t. Love is holding and lifting, getting wet and washing hair day after day when nothing about you says stylist. Love is understanding sleep patterns that never seem to end. Love is listening and forgiving when a loved one shouts out of fatigue for the poverty, sickness and misunderstood dreams of this world.
Love is kind.
Love is delivering a meal to someone you’ve met two times. Love is leaving a gift and words of encouragement for someone you barely know. Love is gracing someone with your presence, caring for someone with a knock at the door. Love is a hug, a look, a call, a text expecting nothing in return.
It does not envy.
Love is being glad when your loved one’s lavished on. Love is resting confidently when your loved one’s receiving more meals, more gifts, more paid time off, and more attention than you. Love is chilling out when your loved one’s getting a lot more sleep than you. Love is extending grace to yourself when your sick spouse is funnier and wittier than you are.
It does not boast, it is not proud.
Love is remaining humble at all times. Love is bowing down to meet the needs of others. Love is remembering that you, too, will need care someday. Love is knowing that anything could happen in an instant. Love is recognizing that healing, restoration and reconciliation is not up to us, but God.
It does not dishonor others.
Love considers whether a picture would be appropriate to share on Facebook or not. Love does dishes. Love changes eye patches and dirty sheets. Love acts without recognition. Love keeps things private when it would be easier to shout out wrong-doings to the world. Love behaves bravely, boldly and beautifully.
It is not self-seeking.
Love is staying home when you’d rather go out. Love is forgoing your night to make dinner for someone who really needs it. Love is going out of your way to buy someone a piece of cake. Love is allowing him to nap while you do everything else. Love is waiting in quiet spaces while you’d rather be moving right along with your own agenda. Love is laughing when you’d rather cry.
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love gives. Love forgives when it’s really hard. Love remembers, but moves on anyway. Love sends emails, texts, messages and cards. Love expects nothing in return. Love graces those who don’t respond they way we’d like. Love never presumes or assumes. Love waits.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Love is brutally honest. “You need to get out of bed now.” “You have no idea what you’re doing.” “You need to take care of yourself.” Love goes above and beyond. “You’re brave.” Love is wise. “You’re going to make it through this.” And love rejoices long before it’s justified. “You will celebrate.” “Spoiler alert: the tumor is shrinking.”
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love keeps on keeping on, even when it wants to give up. Love presses into hard things, ugly things, unseen things. Love delights in beautiful small things. And love knows it’s never easy, but always worth it.
Love never fails.
Love keeps the end game in mind. Love is a legacy. Love is faith with skin. Love travels and draws near in all things, at all times.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.