After last weekend, the quiet reverence Ruth held for Naomi seems much closer to home. We received news that Travis’ dad could not wake up, and immediately headed for Taylorsville, NC instead of Bowie, MD. My heart thumped in fear of the worst. Travis was brave, but quite understandably distracted. I wanted to reach into God’s hands and rework time with Him. One of the reasons that I admire my husband is that where I would be a pathetic, sobbing heap unable to control a car; he was strong and occasionally made a joke. I love him so much.
So for one long hour on the stretch of I-40 highway, we traded words for contemplation. The soft blue sky was endless, and covering the ground with really beautiful autumn light. Light that made us normally think of bonfires and long conversation, a brick one-level home somewhere with our belongings unpacked in it, children dancing through the grass and anxiously awaiting a nice, locally-purchased dinner and then all of us gazing at stars. Someone (probably me, with a small if non-existent audience) recites “Bright Star” by John Keats and is quieted by the question: Why aren’t we steady? My thoughts upon that light were, “He’s not ready to go yet”, “How will he come through this”, and “Is it better to talk about it or shut up?” I can’t speak for Travis, but I doubt his ruminations were completely jolly.
Finally, we reached the ER in Hickory. Travis’ mom, Sherry, and her sweet neighbor Gail were sitting down with Angie, Travis’ oldest sister. They looked admirably exhausted, yet compassionate. Apparently, his dad wasn’t waking up but it wasn’t as serious as we feared. After quite a few more hours involving vending machines, small talk, and too many magazines, we went upstairs to see how Roland was doing. He fared much better, opening his eyes and letting the medication work out of his system. He was released the next night, and for that our family is incredibly grateful.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was experiencing and comforting Sherry’s plight. I’ve heard horror stories of mother-in-laws, and then I’ve heard about grace-filled ones who lived right next door or within a fifteen-minute drive. I didn’t know what to expect before we met, but since then I’ve experienced these things: her delicious home-cooked meals, including one for my parents; a trip to the store and a bag full of clothes as her treat; stories about her childhood on a farm; nights watching Law and Order; breakfast enough to feed a small army; home-made pitchers of sweet tea; engagement and wedding pictures arranged in the living room; a visit with her sister and her husband, the list goes on. We could both tell that she needed us to stay the night and be with her, and it felt really great from a sleep perspective and to donate time to making the family happy. His older sisters and their families are a brilliant example of selfless love. I pray for more ways to showcase this, and it reminds me that I can offer this to my immediate family in larger quantities.
The drive home to Greensboro was genuinely refreshing. We spent the remainder of the day reading, catching up on Breaking Bad, enjoying the sunshine, and expressing gratitude to the Creator for healed ailments. I guess He didn’t need any help with the timing part.
“The Light of Sunflowers”
The piano taps lightly over her silken voice,
“Gonna Get Over You” dripping its autumn-new-school-year song
into golden petals
and heat rising off the ground to caress each unbound child.
They line up to sing and dance,
Mimic and shape passion like photosynthesis
as Mom bakes black-walnut bread
and Dad chops fire-wood and the last stage in Batman: Arkham City.
Their smallest one is laughing and sneezing,
a miniature butt planted in grass
as the older ones meld into a pile
to capitulate her joy, to stalk its golden power.
The flowers turn their faces to the sky.