Shun not the struggle – face it, ‘tis God’s gift.
What’s happening in your life? It’s OK if you don’t answer; I probably wouldn’t hear you anyway. But while you’re thinking about yours, let me tell you a few things going on in mine.
You probably know, if you’ve peeked at this space more than once, who KM is. But just in case you stumbled over here for the first time, let me tell you about her.
I first laid eyes on Kathleen Marie when she was the head checker at the Kroger store in Sherwood. To say I was hit by the thunderbolt is pretty accurate, or perhaps it was Cupid emptying his quill. Whatever it was, I was hooked.
She was 17, and dating some guy I didn’t know and never would. Probably just as well that she ended it with him, peaceably, a year or so later. I didn’t really want to kill anyone before college orientation.
Five years later, we walked down the wide aisle of red carpet at the Cathedral of St. Andrews. Up ahead was Father Thomas, the Catholic priest, who was in charge. Close to him, the venerable Dr. Jim Workman, representing the Methodists.
I stood to the clergy’s left, watching as KM came down the aisle. She kept walking toward us, which I took as a good sign, escorted by her brother Donald in place of their father, who had been gone from them nine years, taken too young.
After she said, “Yes,” and I said, “Heck yes,” we got into the back seat of my late father’s black Olds 98, which mom had been driving since dad’s death 96 days before, taken too young.
KM and I had five married years together before our son joined the party. Three years and three months after that came our daughter.
And the years clicked by.
This August, we will have been together 40 of them. I like to imagine we could do with 40 more. After all, I had two grandparents make it to 95, and one who thrived for three years longer.
As I sat waiting for the doctor last week – and waiting, and waiting – I had time to study the chart of the spine on the wall, and I wondered how a thing as small and intricate as a disc could cause such hellish pain. Too close to a strand of nerves for any wiggle room, I thought, and certainly no room for fragmenting, as mine had decided to do on Super Bowl Sunday when that beauty I’ve been referring to asked, “Can you move my chair closer to the fire?”
I did, and paid the devil his due.
As I looked at the spine chart, I thought of KM and her cancer, which we’d found out about on January 2. It was a lump in her breast that got her to go to the doctor – not one of her favorite things to do, or mine, especially when they keep you and your lumbar 4 waiting for 90 minutes.
Now, with the first quarter of 2015 almost over, which will go down as one of the least favorites of our 158 quarters together, we have lots of gratitude and hope. She’s getting excellent care. We’re blessed with wonderful friends and family. Two of those, KM’s older sisters, are survivors who have been there, done that, and who are today as lively as ever.
All of this, it’s just more of the gift that is life, more of the pain and the joy that comes with living. We’re not done with it yet, me and a girl I first saw at a checkout stand those many years ago. Not done by a long shot.
Jay Edwards is editor-in-chief of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.