The sparkle is not gone. I polished them this morning since today would have been our 41st anniversary. I'm still wearing the rings Gary made for me. He hammered 50 cent coins into bands and then had a jeweler set his grandma's diamonds on them. On the inside you used to be able to see that they were minted in 1953 (my birth year) and read "In God we trust." but the words and numbers have long since worn away. Because they have been on my hand for so many years, and subjected to all of my activities, the prongs have needed adjustments, the bands have needed straightening, and a diamond was even knocked loose and replaced. I don't mind. I love that Gary made them for me and I still enjoy seeing them on my finger. They remind me of my loving husband, and our faithful God who enabled us to love and forgive for so long.
My ring has changed. So have I. Marriage changes things. Especially people. Gary's influence in my life has shaped me, and moved me towards Christ. I recently listened to some audio tapes of him when we were dating. (He didn't like to write letters so he sent me cassette tapes.) We were silly, in love, and immature in many ways, but one thing stood out so clearly. Jesus was the most important person in his life. I loved him for that. Over the years, God was kind to grow us both. Gary is now with the Lord, without any sin. One day I'll join him. I am grateful beyond words for the time we had together.
Yes, I miss him every day, but marriage is temporary. That is a good thing for all of us to remember. It is a constant temptation to make an idol of our spouses and let them become more important to us than God. When I am reunited with Gary it will not be as his wife. It will be as two grateful and amazed sinners who have been rescued from eternal punishment by their Savior and once shared a life together in "time." The following quote, from a book I'm loving right now, was written to parents who had lost a child, but as a wife who's lost a husband, I too have been blessed by it's weightiness.
"A husband, a wife, a child, are great, very great things, as they stand by other creatures; but surely they will seem little things, next to nothing, when the Lord shall set himself by them before the soul. And how know you but God has bidden these earthly comforts stand aside this day, to make way for heavenly ones? It may be God is coming to communicate himself more sweetly, more sensibly than ever to your souls; and these are the providences which must cast up and prepare the way of the Lord. Possibly God's meaning in their death is but this: [Husband], stand aside; you are in my way, and fill my place in your [wife's] heart." (Facing Grief, by John Flavel)
I'm halfway through the year of "FIRSTS"...First Father's day, first Birthday, first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, and first Anniversary...without my Gary. Tonight I have a special dinner planned with my daughter's family, so I have something to look forward to, and a new kind of special memory.
LIVE - REMEMBER - ENJOY
Antique appraisers and collectors use the term "patina" to describe the color change on a metal object that results from age. Patina typically increases the value. My rings cost very little, even by 1974 standards, but they are precious to me because of the promises they represent, and the memories they carry. They grow more beautiful to me with age, because they carry a story with them.
Tonight I went to dinner with April and Jon and the boys to celebrate God's faithfulness to Gary and I. God is attentive to my loss and is filling the void with other comforts so I'm in good hands. My prayer is that the loss of Gary will drive me even closer to the Lord. As I venture into the second half of the year of "FIRSTS," I pray that my love for Jesus will increase, since He is, and always will be, more than enough for this widow. There will be more layers of wear and polishing to be done in my heart as God continues to sanctify me.
"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 5:10-11