And that's not even mentioning the fact that your son, who is totally not a biter, I swear, (ask anybody) bites your daughter when you are in line and they are sitting side by side in one of those grocery carts that has a little car on the front with two steering wheels in it (a kind of car that might be good for some married couples that I know, not naming any names) and the checkout lady had just been commenting on how loving your kids were to each other, but now your daughter is screaming because your son's sharp little vampire teeth have broken the skin on her shoulder. And you've never even put them in one of those car carts before and nobody told you that trying to steer one of them around the store was like trying to wrestle a llama through the hills of Nepal (do llamas live in Nepal? I should really know that, but pregnancy has addled my brain) and this is all while you are practically bent double by gas pain, of all the embarrassing things, praying the whole time you're in the store that your swollen stomach will release some of that gas, and also praying that it won't. (sorry if that's too personal)
And all of this is not even mentioning the fact that your son and daughter, when you're finally home and looking forward to getting some more boxes unpacked in your cabin, have a rock and dust fight when your back is turned, and there are thousands of tiny stones embedded in their half-african kinky hair and it will be impossible to get out, you realize, with a sinking feeling in your stomach, without giving them another bath. Which is not the most fun you have had in your day, since you are four and a half months pregnant, with a belly that looks more like it's six and a half months pregnant, and you don't have a bathtub so you have to fill up a plastic tote with warm water and sit on the floor of the shower with them to bathe them. And there's not enough room in the tote for them, really, so by the end of the bath they are really annoyed, and so are you, and dirt is everywhere, and everyone needs new clothes, and finally it's time for a nap. For them, lucky them, you have too much work to do in the office, so you don't get a nap, but you hate naps anyways, so you don't mind much. All you want is some chocolate, and your husband back.
Well, he comes back, at about 7:00 in the evening, from about a four day trip, and you are so glad to see him, and the kids are glad to see him, but after you put the kids to bed and spend some time walking around together in the dark at the Land, the night doesn't exactly have the ending you expect after a four day absence from your beloved husband, because you are struck suddenly by a stomach virus and spend the entire rest of the evening and all night long, too, waking up to puke violently in the toilet. Romance has flown out the window, and your husband rubs your back while reading himself to sleep.
But none of this matters, because your beloved husband has come back to you safely. Which brings me to the topic that I actually wanted to write about today, before I started ranting (I feel better now, thank you).
One of the brightest shining women that I have ever met stopped by the Land the other day, on her way back to the City. Her name is Ann Trumbo and any of you who have met her will probably agree with me when I say that she is amazing, and maybe some of you will stand up and spontaneously cheer, just reading her name on the page. I mean, we really do need to honour people more, it this world, I think, because God loves to lift the humble up, and so should we.
Ann is tall and strikingly lovely, with short silver hair and strength and beauty in her long bones. She recently said farewell to her husband when he died, after a long battle with brain cancer. She also recently opened the San Francisco House of Prayer, in partnership with a local church. It has its new home on Treasure Island, smack in the center of the Bay. It's a pretty incredible thing, really.
Chinua probably said it best when he said that there are some people in this world that you meet and they confirm, deep within your soul, that everything we believe as followers of Jesus is completely and undeniably real. Ann is like that. She has so recently gone through something that is pretty much everyone's worst nightmare, losing someone you love to a terrible wasting disease, without ever missing a beat. Her trust in God is harder and more solid than a diamond the size of Mt. Tam.
So we were sitting around the dinner table when she dropped by the other day, and she mentioned that she had finally cut her hair, which she had been growing long because her husband, James, liked it that way. She said, "After he was gone, I kept it long for a while, and then I said, 'Well, honey, sorry, but...'" She laughed. "I know he's laughing about it in heaven. I know he's alive. I can feel him being alive, but just not here. He's in heaven... it's like he's just somewhere else." She looked at me. "You know, I kept saying to my sons, as three of us had to lift him from the bed to the chair at the end, 'For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health,' and I never finished it until he left us. We received a prophecy saying that we were going to open the San Francisco House of Prayer, and it's come true. I just thought that God meant that James was going to be there. But..." and she shrugged and lifted her hands, palms up, "Who can argue with God? I mean, we want to, but we can't. I miss him, though. I miss him." She looked at me again and I shook my head and said, "I can't even imagine," because I can't, I really can't. Tears sprung to her eyes and she said, "You know, we were listening to him in the car, at a service he did..." I felt her next words like drops of light. "Treasure your husband. You won't always have him." She shook her head and put her hand on my wrist. "I mean, you will, eventually, we'll all be reunited one day, but here you won't always have him."
This whole conversation was huge for me. It made all my little complaints seem so petty, in the face of such loss, such love, such great faith. A woman who has had her most valuable friend taken, and yet relies on God with a joy that is shining and visible across seventeen States.
It really made me think. Do I treasure Chinua? Well, I guess if treasuring means taking my bad days out on him and loading him down with all my troubles, then I do. If treasuring means not asking him often enough how he's doing, and then listening patiently and caringly, I'm winning on that one. Or, best of all, if treating someone as a treasure means completely falling apart if he even slightly suggests that there is anything I could correct in my life, because any kind of criticism for me is confirmation that I am as worthless as I have always feared, well, then, I am far ahead on treasuring my husband.
I love Chinua with all my heart. It's not hard to do, he's the most lovable person on earth, I think. He's hilarious and a great friend and he has so many talents that he can't even use them all, some have to get put on the shelf with the canned tomatoes, to be used in the winter when he runs out of fresh ones. He has the patience of a saint. Nothing ruffles him, ever. (Which is almost a fault, in my melodramatic books)
But, I feel like I really need to remember to treasure my husband. To look at him every day as a whole beautiful person that I just happen to get to spend my days with. To see him as a deep well, with more to discover in his heart every day. This instead of seeing him as the guy that I live with, who helps me with the kids. I guess this is real love. It's something to think about as we approach our fourth anniversary.