Love stories surround me— the real, weatherbeaten kinds.
Leanna married Drew in the hottest stretch of summer 2019, their story blooming out of the years our families grew together. They’ve aged since the day he took her flowers on the riverfront. It isn’t the age of body, but of souls that have been stormed on and strengthened; a love that’s unfolded under the hail of miscarriage, then morning sickness.
And now, the sleepless nights.
Brian and Taylor have known sleeplessness three times over, and this winter, Taylor carries a fourth. If it’s a boy, it’ll be tackled by two more. If it’s a girl, it’ll be swept up by Elsie Marie and never set down again. They’ve suffered nights without sleep, of course, but also days without naps (and I’m not to judge which is worse). When we visit, we get pummeled by kids in jammies and kisses that taste like pancake syrup. There are dolls and crossbows and books and screams, and Brian and Taylor hold hands in the middle of it all, not giving their kids leftover love, but the love that grows up from their own intertwined roots.
Every family tree has a place where it anchors to the earth, and I call them Dad and Mom. Elsie calls them Poppy and Mimi. My grandparents call them by the names they gave them. They wrestle their grandbabies even as they wisen up their teenagers and wash laundry for their parents. But before the whirlwind of the day, Dad sits in the armchair across from Mom on her green couch, each with black coffee and a Bible. When I pass by the doorway, I hear prayers, asking God for sleep or obedience or a customer for the boys’ new business. I’ll sometimes pour my coffee after Dad’s left for an early meeting and Mom’s still asleep and find a note tucked in her mug, written over with Scriptures and love.
I found another kind of love note yesterday, written to Jesus on college-ruled composition paper. I recognized Nanny’s scribbling right away. Two years before Leanna married Drew, Nanny passed away. Papa Larry now pours his love into us with the kinds of poems he wrote her. And she pours her love at her Savior’s feet.
Storms wash over the sky, then pass. Rain falls, then lifts. Rainbows shimmer, then fade. Real love roots, sprouts, grows, blooms, withers, then rises again beneath it all.
Papa Jay married Mema 66 years ago today.
I held Bennett’s hand and looked up from the snow where we sledded yesterday to see two grey heads and wrinkled smiles looking back.
“Love… endures all things.” – 1 Cor. 13:7