I had a dream the other night. I was in the hospital with a fairly horrible diagnosis. I don’t think I was given long to live, and as a constant stream of people paraded through the hospital room, I remember thinking, “This isn’t right.” Everyone who passed through was someone I’ve known all of my thirty-one years — my parents, my sister, my grandmother, my aunts, my cousins — yet I kept thinking, “This isn’t right!” I remember telling myself that surely, there was no one I could know better or depend on more than these people that I had known the longest, that I had known my entire life. Then, I looked down at my wedding rings and said, “Where is Wes?” He was the one who was missing.
I woke up moments later to the sound of preschoolers cheering over Golden Graham cereal (Papi Wes was preparing it) and thought, “What a bizarre dream!” As I got myself ready for the day, I speculated on what exactly made it so bizarre. For starters, where was Wes when I only had a few hours to live?! And, just as importantly, who was watching our children? And, finally, the most bizarre point of all — how is it possible that someone I’ve only know for seven years, a mere fraction of my lifetime, can be the most important person of all?
I’ve often thought this about marriage. When two people make a covenant before God to spend the rest of their lives together, they usually haven’t known one another longer than a few years. (Wasn’t even a year for us!) Wes and I tend to lean more conservatively than most when it comes to the finality of marriage vows (as long as you’re both alive, you’re stuck with one another no matter what), so there’s an even more elevated importance to promising a lifetime of faithfulness to one another. I think back to when we married and how we were, very honestly, still just getting to know each other. It took a lot of faith to agree to forever. I’m glad we did, but seriously — how odd that the longest relationship you’ll ever have is one you most likely enter into after such a short while!
I spent a long time thinking about this yesterday when we got word that one of the men in our church had passed away unexpectedly. As I was praying for his wife, I was astounded (as I always am when I think about the couples in our congregation) to realize that they’ve been together over fifty years. (Actually, given his age, it’s probably closer to sixty years.) Relationships entered into after just a short while, likely, that have spanned decades and lasted, literally, a lifetime. Incredible! I wonder at what point in those marriages that the most important one became the one who had been there longest, had gone through the most, and had proved more faithful than any other. I wonder at how well you must know one another after that many years together and at how the importance and faith you put in someone after that long while is entirely justified because they are, without a doubt, the one who you know better than anyone else.
I’m thankful today for Wes, especially as he walks alongside this precious widow as she makes arrangements. Praying that we would live and love well for the next fifty or sixty years…