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Category Archives: joy

The Best Is Yet to Be

In a storybook or chick flick it would have been the “happy ending.” Allison and Alex would still have run radiant and laughing through the shower of dried lavender we threw. When they pulled away in the “Just Married” car the screen would have faded. The credits would have rolled as the soundtrack switched to Taylor Swift or Ingrid Michaelson–a gooey sweet ballad about finding love at last. We would have left the theater satisfied. Happy endings make us, well, happy.

In so-called “real life” I think there are even better things–like happy beginnings and happy middles and hard work and hard times and sacrifice and sticking it out and making it work. Like deciding to stay in love and stay together and share it all.  A month ago we celebrated a happy beginning, the genesis of something so profound and beautiful that it shifts the weight of eternity. A new family–two hearts, four hands, one future–was forged. We took photographs and ate cake and danced on Allison and Alex’s wedding day in honor of endless possibility and potential beyond imagination.

Today marks their four week anniversary and their unabashed bliss makes my heart smile. It especially touches me because they have encountered some unexpected bumps in the road. Alex took a hard-thrown softball to the face in an intramural ballgame a few days after they returned from their honeymoon.  It shattered the front of his skull–left his cheek and jaw literally in pieces. Hours of facial reconstruction surgery followed. He now sports metal plates in his face (just call him Wolverine) and enough stitches to give Frankenstein a run for his money. When we talk to Alex and Allie on the phone I half-expect to fill the “shoulder-to-cry-on” role. Nope. It goes more like this:

Jerie: “How are you doing?”

Allison: “We’re in love, did we tell you? Marriage is the best!”

Jerie: “Alex, you hanging in there?”

Alex: “I’ve got an angel wife to take care of me. What else do I need?”

And so on–not a word of complaint, no whine-fest or pity-party, or if-only. Alex and Allison will take other blows-to-the-face as their life unfolds. But stacked up next to the facts that they have each other and they have eternity, the difficulties don’t loom so large. Cynics might snort and chalk it up to newlywed naivete, but I know better. I know because after twenty-eight years my heart still cartwheels in my chest when Bob walks into a room. Heavy times feel lighter and happy things take wing because we walk side by side. Still. To Alex and Allie I say, “Bravo!” Marriage is the best. And it only gets better as we face the bumps in the road together. I love the way Robert Browning said it:

Grow old along with me!                                                                        
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

Exactly. The best is yet to be. And be. And be.

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>Life is deluxe

>Our daughter Julie spent her toddler days with us in married student housing at the university where my husband was attending law school. Nothing enthralled her more than flushing random objects down the toilet. Almost daily I would hear the “whoosh” and run to the bathroom to find Julie standing next to the bowl. Hands folded across her belly in satisfaction, she would watch as a washcloth or small toy circled slowly out of sight. Pencils, a flashlight, the utility bill, Christmas ornaments, nightlights. Whatever Julie laid her busy, dimpled hands on eventually made its way down that wondrous waterslide. And then, inevitably, things backed up.

So, I called University Housing maintenance–a lot. I had the number memorized and the plumbing guy knew me by name. The routine never varied. Dale would arrive in his blue truck and head straight for the bathroom. He could generally snake his magic tool down the toilet and extract the soggy item in minutes. Now and then, the snake did not suffice. Mighty Dale would unbolt the toilet from the floor and carry it out the front door. Tipping it upside down he jiggled until something rolled out. One day he picked up a rubber ducky that had tumbled from the commode and put it in my hand. “Life is deluxe!” he muttered crustily as he heaved the potty back into the house. It made me chuckle to hear that choice bit of acerbity from the mouth of a man cradling a privy in his arms. “Life is deluxe,” I repeated like an ‘Amen.’

For some months I found Dale’s words springing to mind in ironic situations or when things went sour. “Life is deluxe,” I would grumble to myself with more aggravation than I actually felt. Over time, however, I noticed that Dale’s quirky phrase had shifted in my lexicon. Sarcasm didn’t suit. My soul knew better. Life IS deluxe. Truly. Capital ‘D’ deluxe. Delicious. Glorious. Splendid. Ravishing. Deluxe.

Calla lilies spring up along my fence every March. Complete strangers stop in the snow to help me to my feet after a slip. Cool water makes never-ending music over smooth rocks. The slender apple tree that Bob planted in our yard bends and barely supports the fist-sized fruit that hangs from its branches. Acne abates. Sweet juice drips down my chin from a crimson-hearted strawberry. Our children pile into our bed on Saturday mornings and make us laugh until our stomachs hurt. Julie gives birth. Baby Lydia curls her padded palm around my finger and smiles as if she holds heaven in her hand. My dad opens his clear hazel eyes one last time. Expending all that’s left of life in him, he locks Mom in his gaze and mouths the words “I love you” before he slips away. I lie on my back and cry round real tears that roll into my ears and wash me clean. Deluxe indeed.

I believe tenaciously in the goodness of life. Daily I marvel at the exquisite complexity of our human experience–the profound, painful, delirious, heartbreaking, exhausting, exhilarating adventure we share. People move me. Moments change me. What surprise will drift to me on the back of a breeze? When I step over the edge into a free-fall, what updraft will lift me and gently bear my weight? What blows my way today on winds unexpected?

Copyright 2010 Jerie Jacobs