She stopped me in what was supposed to be a quick-by-necessity dash through the Christian bookstore. What was I doing now? Were the children plopped in front of the Veggie Tales screen really all mine? Did I stay home with them?
As the conversation lulled, I could have made a break for it--the children were minutes away from remembering it was past their lunchtime. But I couldn't just leave without asking. My heart really needed to know.
How was her granddaughter, the one who shares my name, the one whose birthday I think of two days after my own each year?
Her lilting voice instantly dropped to the hushed tone of something that should not be said, and she held up three fingers. "She's on her third."
A vise clenched my chest--I didn't know.
Only one year older than my 34 years...and just one in a multitude of past friends who have given in to the belief that their marriage can't be fixed, that "till death do us part" really was just a suggestion.
It breaks my heart, brings tears to my eyes--for those friends, for their former spouses, for their children.
A few hours after the bookstore conversation, I stand in front of the mirror, taking a little more time than usual to touch up my make up, try on and take off two or three blouses until I find one that looks special.
Most Friday evenings see me driving back into town while everyone else is struggling to leave. I'm usually pretty tired and could easily drop the children off at my inlaws' house, turn around, and go take a nap, watch a movie, or catch up on some work.
Instead, I go have a dinner with my husband.
"Have fun on your date with daddy," Wyatt yells as I head out the door. Like a watchful parent, he adds, "Be careful! You know it'll be dark soon!"
Just a couple hours each week for us--to laugh, to catch up, to hold hands across the table...to kindle the flame.
Today, my husband works on the red barn, ripping off the rotten front boards and adding new ones. And I? I cling a little more closely to his side, handing him nails, standing on a board he's trying to hold down and cut with the skill saw, finding dropped screws, and moving the rotten boards out of the way.
It's not that he needs my help, nor that I don't have work of my own I need to do indoors.
It's merely that I need to feel him close today, need to express my thankfulness for his love.
These small everyday intimate moments we choose to spend together, they are the breathing in and out of prayers for our family to be a living example of what Christ's eternal covenant is all about.
Photo: Side by side shoes as Doug and I work together.