He leans close on cold tile as she retches until nothing is left and then gracefully leads her as she stumbles to bed him half asleep pure moonlight keeping watch. Back and forth they traipse all night him soothing fevered brow with cool towels and making runs down twisted stairs at ungodly hours for seltzer water, then sprite, then ice as the possibilities of keeping anything down become futile. And before dawn comes he drags himself out of warm covers to clothe and feed and pack three snacks and three lunches and marches them all off to the bus without one complaint, one grumble.
And she is humbled low that love could look like this.
Groundhog day repeats longer than either think they have strength to make one more step but they plod along to the Doc her feeling more like a dead lump of flesh than anything else, while IV’s pump life-giving saline into her wilting frame. But he’s sitting patient reading by dim light slanting through cracked blinds. Because this is marriage. This is where rubber meets road. And no amount of rings or romantic dinners or rambles in the park can prepare one for the seasons of suffering. But it’s in the willingness to suffer together, each other fading to bring out the color of the other that you find the heart of marriage. The heart of God.
They gather their brood after the storm is passed under a sun slipping an egg yolk through purpled skies to debrief, to grieve, to give thanks. And where two or more are gathered in His name there He is. And He was there as little fingers laid hands on her fractured frail body, him leading the way to the Throne Room. And He was there as roles reversed. And He was there and He was and He is enough.
And if there is anything these youngins need to know about love is that true love never looks back. True love pours out their life for the other sacrificing all. True love hangs on when the cake and candles and glitter fade.
And that is a love worth laying your life down for. It’s a love worth finding. And it’s a love worth keeping until the last page of the story is written.