For our third (I think it was our third) anniversary, I gave Lonny a novel that he didn't own, but had long wanted. I gave him several other things as well. He gave me perfume. He gave his full attention. He let me know in so many ways that he loved me. Like many new wives, I assumed that after a nice anniversary dinner, we would spend the evening delighting in the benefits of marriage.
I always enjoyed private time with my husband, but that evening I was tired. I had wanted the day to be perfect and had worried and fussed much of the day trying to make it so. Lonny was not happy to be retired. He had worked from an early age and didn't care for a life of imposed leisure. He was a pilot, but in his final flight physical before forced retirement he had been diagnosed with diabetes. He wouldn't be able to fly for the military or as an occupation. It unsettled him and grieved me on his be-half.
We had been busy during our first three years. His daughter and his son had come to be with us. We had built a home and sold it and moved to Snyder Texas. Through it all, Lonny had weathered the storm with quiet calm, and though his career had taken a nose dive, he was pleased to be married and pleased to be with me. Of course, I had been a bit high maintenance throughout, but young wives will be. I like to think I kept him occupied and in so doing kept him from dwelling on flying.
After we cleaned up dinner, I was glad to see Lonny pick up his book and head to his chair. It was August so we didn't have a fire and the sun glowed softly through the clerestories, making its daily bid for the western horizon.
I went to shower and put on a special robe and gown I had saved for the occasion. Usually it was a nightshirt and a pair of old shorts, but, being our anniversary, I took the finery from the back of my closet.
Once darkness settled for the evening, I pulled back the covers and arranged them neatly, then called to Lonny. He said he would be in in a minute, and so I waited, and waited. I drifted to sleep and woke up and waited. Finally at two in the morning I went in to check on him.
He was reading. He had scooted into his chair so that he was part of it. He smiled. He twisted his tongue in his mouth and chewed on it, which was his habit when he concentrated. Other than turning the page and biting his tongue, he was still.
I watched him for a full ten minutes, loving him, not wanting to disturb him. Eventually, I couldn't resist. "I've been replaced by a book after only three years." I smiled as I spoke.
"What?" Lonny looked up. "Oh, I'll be right in."
I shook my head. "Never mind."
"Okay." Lonny went back to the book.
The next day I teased him again, and he said, "You gave it to me and I really enjoyed it. You should be happy."
I was very happy.
I cannot imagine Heaven. I cannot imagine a place of no grief, no worry and no anxious thought. While I miss Lonny daily and in increasing ways I wonder that he is in a world where he no longer grieves his lack of occupation, where he no longer struggles to fit into an angry world, a world where people are told daily that their lives don't matter.
I wish I could tell him again how much he mattered to me, how much his quiet attention softened my heart and tempered my own anger. I know Heaven is a world beyond our understanding, and i know he is with our Lord. It is a world even finer than the best book.
Today I miss you terribly, husband of mine.