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V-Day Story

A Valentine's Day Story
----------------------

The door to Bert's hospital room was wide open, so I stepped in, knocking on the door frame as I usually do. Bert, a 70 year old man recovering from knee replacement surgery, was reclining in the chair and welcomed me in. As most people are on this floor, he was glad to see me and let me sit down. We did the usual chit-chat about his condition, how long he had been here, and the usual questions about background and family. Patients usually like to talk about their families, but Bert took me on a special ride today.

"I met a wonderful girl in 1952. She was 12 years old. We were in grade school together. She and I became good friends, and when she was 18 I married her."

Bert's wife died of cancer a little over a year ago. The tears form in the corner of his eyes as the words breathlessly escape his lips - "I lost her." The two of them had celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary only weeks before - in the hospital, with her weakened by the cancer ravaging her body. She eventually slipped into a coma. Two nights later, he awoke by her side at about 2:00am and knew that something was different. He knew that she had fallen asleep permenantly, and laid by her side and held her hand as she left him. Forty-seven years of radical commitment and unquestioned loyalty culminating in a quiet moment at her side in the middle of the night.

Bert tried to apologize for laying this on me. But his story conitnued. He talked of the commitments that they had made together - the vows that were sacred to them both. The decisions they had come to about what their life together would look like - a simple life - his days as a professional mechanic and her full time job as a mother - but his words brought out the wonders he found in such a life simply by being able to come home to her every day. He was honest about the difficulties, but covered that with the strong language of undying commitment. "We said to death do us part - and we meant that."

It was time for me to leave, so Bert and I prayed together. We prayed of the blessings of life that God grants us to carry us through every day. We prayed of the gift of marriage that he had experienced for so many decades, and was now learning to live without. I thanked God for the testimony that he has given Bert of what unfailing commitment and love looks like - a picture that is slowly fading in the world.

I left Bert sitting in that room, still feeling some of the pains of his loss. But I left a man in that room who can face God knowing that he made a commitment before him and gave himself to a promise that he took seriously and cherished with his whole heart until God reclaimed it.

I left a man in that room today, who, through tears and apology, reminded me that the embodiment of God's love for us can still exist on earth today.


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