Romantic preparation for our 11th Anniversary has not gone as I envisioned. When I awoke from a four-hour sleep to prepare breakfast for the family on Saturday morning, I was aware that something wasn’t right. I willed myself out of bed and had good reason to return to it in an attempt to grab a quick nap before a neighbor’s birthday party. Fast forward to Sunday morning: I knew I needed to miss church. I was feeling lousy. As I creaked down the stairs, I saw that Sarah had all the kids huddled around the laptop, watching the morning online worship service at our church, while eating their cereal. My temp would stay in the 100’s for most of the day.
On Monday morning, it was 104! I would wear a long sleeve T-shirt over the top of a short sleeve T-shirt just to keep from having the teeth-rattling chills. I’d wake up to the realization that I needed to shower and put on some fresh shirts. I thought I’d kicked the bug when my temperature dropped down to around 98 after a shower and another shirt change, but by 6:00 p.m. on Monday evening, it was back up to around 102.
In the midst of this, Sarah’s demonstrations of love were clear and visible. The kids were encouraged to keep the noise level down, and I was able to rest in our bedroom. She would check on me, empathetically inquire about how I was feeling, bring fresh water, sometimes wipe my forehead, and bring samples of food that seemed appealing. She tried to pick up where I would have led the charge by making sure the kids were bathed as well as assuming other responsibilities that I carry. She chose to sleep in the same bed with me, even if it was the flu, just to be close. She was a companion as I cleared my throat in the mornings, or coughed to breathe clearly in the evening. On Monday, she had a huge day of work, but she was aware of my high temperature. I prepared Jace’s lunch, got him on the bus, then retreated to our room, hoping the two girls, Gwyneth and Quinn, could care for one another. I texted Sarah about how I was doing, and she immediately planned to come home to get lunch for them. I planned to close out the morning with them watching the “Frozen” DVD. When she got the girls fed, she proceeded to ask me what I would love to eat and I off-handedly said, “Soup....” She prepared homemade chicken-vegetable soup and brought it to my bedside. As the day progressed, Sarah arranged for a lady who watches our children to come over before Jace arrived home from school. Our friend, whom we call Aunt Jerri, prepared the evening meal and got the kids ready for bed. Sarah arrived back home right when the kids went to bed. She’d been active for over 12 hours at work while covering at home where she could. Then, she came into our room and took me to the doctor while Jerri stayed with the kids. We were relieved to receive a diagnosis of bronchitis and prescribed antibiotics. We breathed a sigh of gratitude that our kids hadn’t been exposed to something quite as contagious as another type of virus.
In a way, this week was deeply romantic. Confined to my bedroom for two days, I missed the usual touch of my kids and Sarah. I felt disconnected from “life” as I know it. But, the gratitude for this servant and life partner beside me, whose love shows in tangible ways, was more powerful than ever. I had a new appreciation for her, a new love for all that she shouldered in just a few days. I had new hunger for just being with my kids. And I’m starting to feel what it is like to be in a healthy body again.
I have friends who are dealing with terminal illnesses, who’ve struggled against odds for months and years, and at times even ended up in hospice. What an incredible blessing if they are surrounded by a presence in the form of a person who really cares. That’s love we all crave when it matters most. Someone who will care, who will be there, who will go the extra mile -- often shown in the least expected ways. We want the kind of love that will just be there. It’s really romantic isn’t it? Great practice for the next 25 years…. Just BE… HERE…!