I sat down with a dear friend last night. We were at a diner near Union Square, and it had been entirely too long since I’d had the chance to slide into a booth across from her.
We drank hot cocoa and talked; there were piles of questions to ask, many stories to share.
But one stood out in particular.
It’s so beautiful and sweet. A proof of life, so to speak. Or at least proof that the life we desire–the kind where love wins and redemption is a rule rather than just a nice idea–exists.
“Where did you spend Christmas?” I asked my friend.
“With my uncle, and, Jess–the craziest thing happened. Crazy and amazing.”
“My uncle got married when he was 20, to a girl who was just 18. They had two boys and then a little girl–the little girl died when she was just five months old. My uncle found her in her crib and I think something died in him, too, when he found her just gone like that.”
“That’s so tragic…”
“I know. And he never really recovered–I mean, he just closed off and shut down and the girl he had married, well, they stopped getting along.”
“That happens a lot, I’ve read,” I told her. “Marriages rarely sustain the death of a child.”
“Well, theirs didn’t. And my uncle–he just became bitter and lost touch even with his boys; I guess he couldn’t find it in him to father anyone after his daughter died.”
“That’s so sad for everyone.”
“It is. Anyway, he remarried someone, had another baby–a girl–and I guess things kind of went back to normal, but that marriage wasn’t so good. There were problems. The woman he married was not kind or a good mom at all…so, eventually, that marriage ended, too, and he raised his daughter alone.”
(I know this doesn’t sound like a nice story, but just bare with me; the best stories generally have a turning point, which means there’s somewhere to turn from–you know, that it’s not just all smooth sailing–we’re getting there, promise)
“Then my uncle was diagnosed with cancer about ten years ago.”
(I know. I promised you a GOOD story. It’s coming; trust me)
“Oh my gosh,” I said, “This is all just so, so sad..”
“But it’s actually not that sad!” my friend disagreed. “The doctors only gave him two years to live, and he’s been proving them wrong for eight years going strong now.”
“And then, a few months ago, my uncle was at the hospital for something routine. While there, he walked by a room and heard someone call his name. He turned and saw it was his first wife. They hadn’t seen each other for close to fifty years!”
“Oh my gosh–how crazy!”
“I know! They reconnected and talked and one thing led to another…”
“Wait–are they both single?”
“Yes. His first wife–well, she had remarried, but her husband passed away a few years ago–”
“So they’re both single, and they’ve reconnected–”
“AND NOW THEY’RE ENGAGED!”
“Yes! They’re so in love, Jess! I met her over Christmas and they’re so open with each other now; it’s a beautiful thing. My uncle even talked about how closed off he had become after the death of their daughter–but my soon-to-be-aunt cut him off, saying that is all in the past now, that it doesn’t matter now, and she’s so glad God has brought them together again. And then–get this!–my self-proclaimed atheist uncle just nodded his head and agreed that it was God who brought them together!”
“And what about the boys–the older brothers of the little girl who died?”
‘They’ve reconciled with my uncle–their dad–too!”
“Oh my gosh. This is a lifetime move, or something. I love it. When are they getting married?” I asked.
“I’m not sure.”
“What are they waiting for?! I mean, no time like the present!”
“I know,” my friend agreed.
See? The payoff. It’s great. Worth wading through all the tragedy.
Just like life.
Yours and mine.
All the painful stuff becomes worth it when we see what’s waiting on the other side.