It could have been yesterday.
Hot …. humid… a day scorched around it’s edges by a punishing almost-summer sun. It was a long hot day and I was so lonely. I remember that well.
The weight of my twenty years hung heavy around my shoulders. Only two months of space separated me from the dirt and dysfunction of a disastrous and abusive 3-year relationship.
Even then I recognized how close I came to becoming a statistic.
Finally on my own with a place to call home—or at least where I could turn the key in a lock without fear, I was just beginning to detox from all those years of lying… and laying with a proverbial devil. By this time, I was experiencing something close to the emotional “DT’s”— anxiety, uncertainty and doubt plagued my waking hours and strangely quiet moments.
Chaos… is bad and yet strangely comforting in it’s predictability. To those unfamiliar with it, sometimes silence feels deadly. It did that night.
Although we spoke to one another regularly, I felt so far from God. It was as if I was making a collect call to Him every time… hoping He’d accept and always surprised when He did. He was still very near to me though. How near would take me many, many more years to discover and still more years to embrace.
I had a long way to go to before I’d discover who God really is and at this point in my life I’d long forgotten who I was. Maybe I’d never known at all. It was time to find out.
By the time I’d gathered up enough courage to pack up my 70 Dodge Dart and drive away from hell, I knew only that life *could* be better and I was allowed to start over.
But that night, I was tired. The deep kind of tired that comes from fighting to get to the other side. The kind of tired that almost makes you forget what you were fighting for.. give up and halfway wonder if it might have been better to stay in “Egypt”…..
All those years of forced-chosen-forced isolation not only left me with little self-respect but, no real friends. One or two hung about the fringes of my life and maybe one would actually answer the phone on a night like this. Maybe.
On the fourth an unfamiliar voice chirps:
“Widespread Panic Hotline!
We are open for your requests now!!”
HUH?!?! Checking the number…yes… it was correct and I hear my friend laughing in the background as this crazy…. happy person proceeds to draw me into conversation.
I can’t remember he said. I just remember how he said it.
He was…. funny.
A complete stranger and yet… not.
My friend got on the line and I heard the words “party”, “come”, “tonight” and before I knew it, I was hanging up to get ready to drive somewhere I’d never been before. Taking another wild chance, on my own.
Funny how your mind works because I was intrigued and excited and scared out of my wits all at the same time. The freedom I felt was intoxicating and yet foreign and I had to keep telling myself that this was “normal”… people socialize all the time.. yes, it was good to go.
Stepping out the door into the hazy gray softness of twilight, the heat of the day still radiating from the pavement, I clearly remember glancing at the sky and catching sight of the moon—round and full of promise.
Suddenly, I felt like that moon:
fat and hopeful,
bright and courageous.
And God as my witness, I looked straight into the face of that laughing moon and I knew it.
I felt it…. and I said it out loud:
“Tonight I will meet the man I’m going to marry.”
I meant it.
And I did.
June 16, 1989.
Twenty five years ago today.
Five months later we’d stand together before a JP and a handful of family and friends and swear we’d do whatever it was we were supposed to do from that point on…. forever.
Like we knew what forever meant! Lawd….. at that moment, forever was the furthest thing from our minds and yet, when it was all over, there we were— married and our forever had begun.
You know, some people think forever is a long time…. as if it’s a long way off or someplace you get to eventually or achieve. I disagree.
Forever is actually…. always… right now. It’s always today and each day the choice is made to keep on going within it.
Today, June 16, 2014 is a piece of my forever….what we like to call our “Little Anniversary”, the anniversary of the day we met. It means more than the day we married.
For both of us, it was a life altering moment.
For me in particular, it was a shot in the dark… aiming at a minuscule glimmer of hope on the horizon. A moment of near-blind faith and trusting in what little I knew of God to be true…that good was still possible…and still out there somewhere, for me.
Trusting I had not been abandoned without hope.
And people…. I KNOW…. the struggle is real.
I don’t care where you come from or how long you’ve known each other or were engaged, I’m convinced that no two people come to this place without a lot of wreckage in their wake. There’s a lot of necessary casting off and taking on. There’s a lot of death and dying to self along the way…and many, many moments of resurrection.
I’m humbled by the realization that there was a time in our recent history when we came
—> this<— close to losing it all and not making it to this day.
When the deep wounds of our pasts would find their way to the surfaces of our individual lives and threatened to poison and kill our marriage.
When there was nothing left to do but slice ourselves open and deal with it all.
When all we could do is trust and allow God to cleanse, purify and heal these hurt places in us once and for all.
Hard and yet so necessary….
and so beautiful.
Twenty-five years… of coming so close to becoming a statistic.… and choosing instead to listen beyond the noise of the waves crashing on the breakers and fight our way out into the calm of wide-open seas.
Only because we did…. with God’s help…. can we celebrate the gift of our lives together — every day that’s passed between then and now and every day we’ll share from this day forward … forever.
Because forever isn’t far away…. it’s today.
Because maybe you need to hear this: there’s still hope. Keep fighting for it.
It’s worth the struggle…and today, it’s what I know.
I am blessed and grateful beyond measure.