Three things will last forever -faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love (1st Cor. 13:13 NLT)
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Baby” I sang as I entered the house carrying a balloon tied to a box of candy. My husband grinned up at me from his hospital bed. I placed the box of candy and the balloon on the bed table. Then I tapped the balloon. A tinny rendition of You’re the One began to play. “You’re the one who makes me sing and shout, you’re the one I dream about. We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one”.
His grin widen into a smile that filled his whole countenance. His eyes brimmed with love and a little of that love spilled over and down his cheeks. “I will always love you,” I said. “Me too” he croaked. It is hard for him to speak, his lung capacity has decreased and it takes a lot of effort for him to push enough air over his vocal cords to make them vibrate. His tongue and cheek muscles have also fallen prey to ALS (Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis) and he has difficulty enunciating his words clearly. But our desire to live each moment that we are granted has led us to make the decision that “I’m gonna live, live, live until I die”. It has been this decision that has kept us going through the long difficult years of living with ALS rather than dying from it. It has been this decision that has led us to praise God in the midst of the most difficult circumstances we have ever faced. It is this decision that keeps us celebrating holidays, birthdays, and yes, even Valentine’s Day.
The singing balloon is now attached to the side rail of my husband’s hospital bed. A couple of times a day as I am doing things for him I will tap the balloon. The balloon and I do a duet to which I dance. He always gets a big grin on his face. His eyes become dazzling spotlights of intense love. In that transcendent moment we know and share a passionate love that fills a lifetime and beyond, a love that rises above all things, a love that even death cannot diminish. In that moment I know that I will always have his love with me. It won’t matter where his physical presence has moved; his love will be in my heart, mind, and spirit. His love will guide me in my decisions. I will hear him in my heart cautioning me to think before I act, questioning is this really what you want to do, or telling me “You can do this”.
For the dying, death is the doorway to Heaven. For those of us who are left behind, death is the doorway that challenges us to go on living in a new and different way. It is not easy to think about living alone, but I believe the best way to honor the man I love, my beloved husband who has always challenged me to be the best I can be, is to live life as fully as I possibly can. I know this is true because he told me so.
Three things will last forever, faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love (1st Cor. 13:13 NLT)
Ann E. Van Dyke holds a Masters degree in psychology and is a licensed addictions counselor.
Mourning Glory, A Devotional for Grieving is a book for those struggling through a loss and looking for support and comfort. http://www.amourningdevotional.com