Today’s post is gonna be different but it does weave into the liver transplant tapestry that is now my life.
On Dec 8, 1981 my University of Maine room mate Ken was having some fun at my expense. He was giving me a hard time because I had no date for Friday night. I was cocky. I bet him $5 I could have a date within 5 minutes. He took the bet and I walked across the hall of Corbett Hall, our dorm, and asked a girl named Robin if she wanted to go see a movie Friday night. She looked stunned and said, “yeah, I guess so.” I walked back into my room and collected the $5 with Ken protesting that Robin didn’t count as a real date. On December 11 we went to see “Stripes” starring Bill Murray at the student union.
Robin was kind of a science geek. She spent most of her time studying. She didn’t fit the mold of the girls I dated but after just one date, something inside me was different. No makeup, no games, no attempts to impress each other. Laughs were real and … it was fun. It was really fun.
Saturday morning I was heading to the field house to shoot some baskets. Her door was open so, I said hi and asked if she wanted to come. No fuss, no delays, she just grabbed her sneakers and said she’d come. I expected her to sit to the side like most of the girls I dated and be impressed by my skills. Nope. She shot around with me and she knew how to play! It wasn’t long before we were playing horse and then one-on-one. It was then that I knew this was no bet. Robin laughed, giggled, took goofy shots and time disappeared. That laugh. That smile. That sense of humor. She tried. And … as corny as it sounds … I knew I loved this girl.
I thought of her all day, couldn’t wait to see her between classes, at meals and at the end of the day. We’d laugh and dance with the Muppet Show … and then I told her, “I love you.” I remember it like it was yesterday. With a shocked look on her face she answered, “Thank you.”
I wanted, “I love you too,” but my Robin is careful and cautious. She was still figuring me out. She knew she didn’t fit the mold for the girls she had seen me with. I would have to earn her trust. As long as I could spend time with her, I was okay with it.
Fast forward to June 2, 1984 – Attleboro, MA
I stood at the front of room of well-dressed people wearing a tuxedo with tails and then the music started. At the back of the aisle she appeared in the most beautiful dress I had ever seen. I remember her smile, her eyes, her walk. Everyone else in the room disappeared. There was only Robin. I can hear Chet’s (our pastor’s) words, “I now pronounce you man and wife.”
The tapestry …
It has been 28 years since that day. Robin and I, two individual strands wrapped with a third, (Jesus) have grown into an unbreakable cord. Our tapestry includes beautiful colors of the births of three precious babies, their graduations, their hurts and joys. It includes threads of walking hand in hand, laughing til we cried, dancing silly dances and dining at fancy places where the soup is supposed to be cold.
But our tapestry has some places where it has been mended. The times we haven’t liked each other much and the seasons I worked and she mothered while neither of us “spoused.” Small tears covered now by patches which made the fabric stronger.
There were the major crisis when we could only wrap ourselves in our tapestry and huddle together praying for God to preserve our family. There was an episode with a spiritually abusive church that shook us. There were times we had no food and no money when I was speaking for a youth missions program while raising support. There was the Christmas with no presents. We wrapped ourselves tightly and our God met our needs right before our children’s eyes in amazing ways.
I started seeing a rip in the top of our tapestry in 2011. It was a wide rip called liver disease. By May I was hospitalized for the second time. It was then that a doctor told me my liver was shot and I’d need a transplant to survive much longer. The rip traveled and widened. I wondered if the beautiful tapestry of our lives would now be ruined.
My first thought was of Robin. I saw our life; tossing her into a mud puddle, she chipping my tooth, a new puppy on a family vacation, school around the kitchen table, Attitash, get-aways, her laugh. That laugh I love. I cried first for her. What would she do? I was leaving her with nothing but memories.
While I have been in and out of the hospital 9 times over the past year, Robin, with so many others have been working to hold our tapestry together. People have taken up their needles to help us sew. They have added unique beauty in this story of ours.
May 7, when I came out of surgery with 50% of my son Joshua’s liver in me, the repair to the rip in the tapestry was complete.
Today is my 28th anniversary. I am 25 days out from my surgery. I can’t drive or go anywhere to get my wife anything to express just how important she is to me. I can barely walk 200 yards. She still is waiting on my every need.
So, I’ve done the only thing I can do for her. Write.
Robin, I would not be here without you. The tapestry of our years together is so special to me. As I lie here recuperating, I have gone stitch by stitch, memory by memory over our life. My smiles have been continuous. My tears have flowed from being overwhelmed by how you have loved me. I have nothing for you today; no chocolates, no flowers, no dinner out. All I have to give is that I am here, with a new liver and a promise of anniversaries to come.
Because I know the beauty of your stitching so well, I know that will be okay with you.
I love you,
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecc 4:12