I could hear someone talking before I could see him. Last thing I remembered, I’d been in a cold room on an operating table with bright lights overhead and busy workers in scrubs strapping down my arms and legs as an oxygen mask lowered.
Next thing I know, a deep voice coaxed me out of my sleep. Nurse on the right of the hospital bed, Bray on the right. The nurse was explaining things to Bray as he held my hand. I closed my eyes again. So tired.
My pesky diseased gallbladder was gone, Bray reported later that day. He helped me get dressed and into the wheelchair. He drove me home and showed me some big black stones the surgeon extracted to show the kids.
I hurt and was tired. Bray ran around getting me comfortable. More pillows. Medicine. Water. Chicken broth, eventually. By evening the air in my belly sent shooting pain through my shoulder leaving me in tears over the pain. I couldn’t lay down because of the pain from all the air which required walking to moderate, but the walking set my scars to searing.
He tried everything. He held my hand. Rubbed my back. Googled solutions for the pain. My belly was swollen and bruised, my hair flat against my head, and my teeth unbrushed since morning. We settled on a heating pad as a temporary solution so I could lay down.
There was nothing beautiful or romantic or glamorous about the moment. But it was the perfect demonstration of love on Valentine’s week. A clear picture of love without shades.
All week I’d thought about another one of these Shades movies coming out for Valentine’s week. It broke my heart to think people have started believing love comes in those shades. I’ve not read the books or seen the movies, but I know enough to know true love doesn’t look like twisted connections in high end sheets.
I’ve known this man for over 13 years. We’ve been married nearly 11. He doesn’t buy me jewelry. I’ve never been surprised with a trip or spontaneous adventure. He doesn’t send flowers.
It used to bother me. In the early days when Hallmark defined my notions of love.
Now I know what love really looks like. This is the fourth time my husband has sat with me in a surgical gown. He’s had to take a call from a waiting room to authorize doctors to cut me open and remove a tumor from my uterus. He’s held my hands, loving me at 95 pounds heavier than usual, as doctors pulled three little babes out of my womb. Just two years ago, he wheeled me out of a surgical center with my knee outstretched after repairs to the bone. And here again, he was the constant, ready to help me heal.
I know I can count on him. I know he wants to do everything in his power to keep me from hurting, not to deliver pain. Now, we can hurt each other. Don’t get me wrong. We’re human and we hurt each other by not doing the right thing or saying the wrong thing.
But I know true love isn’t roses and perfect bodies and surprise trips to Paris. It cleans up vomit in the middle of the night. It rubs your shoulders when the pain is closing in. It holds your hands and feeds the kids and washes clothes. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (I Cor 13:7)
Your love may not look like the facsimile projected on the screen or written on the pages, but don’t long for that. The real love, the kind which lasts, is found in the quiet small moments of your everyday life. It showed up this past week like a symphony, sunlight not shade, and reminded me how powerful the real thing is.