The Notebook and Other Bittersweet Reminders

You know, sometimes you just have to wonder about God’s reasons and methods of communication. There’s a guy I know who believes with all his heart that God confirms things to him by the presence of stray pennies. If an idea pops in his head, and there is a loose penny on the ground, that means it is from the Lord. Other people feel God can use fortune cookie messages, or a song on the radio. Hey, who am I to say?

In looking back over the past week or so, I’ve run into several thought and emotion provoking moments which have been tender, and heartbreaking. It started one late night last week when I was unable to fall asleep. I turned on the TV and began playing cable roulette. Flipping from station to station looking for a channel upon which to land and settle in. I came across the Oxygen channel.

Yeah, I know.

What movie is on? None other than The Notebook. Hey, I’m a guy, but even I can appreciate this great story. As I watched it…again, it brought to my mind the love story of my parents in my mom’s final years. The unconditional and sacrificial love my dad had for my mom even after her passing in March.

Then yesterday, I was strolling through the grocery store after church, and noticed an elderly couple sitting in the little dining area inside the store. They had a simple little lunch. They weren’t even really talking together, but you could tell they were simply enjoying one another’s company while sharing a meal. As I walked by, I tried to imagine the thousands of meals they’ve probably shared together over their years. I wondered about the many memories, precious and tragic they’ve experienced together. I wondered about how it must feel to be at that age and sharing a simple meal in a grocery store with your life’s best friend.

Then last night, I watched an episode of a show I enjoy, Gene Simmons Family Jewels on A & E. In it, Gene’s girlfriend Shannon went to an antique shop and purchased an old end table. When she got it home, she found some old love letters inside. She tracked down the original recipient of the letters, and was also able to help her track down a vintage photo of her long deceased husband. When Shannon was able to present the photo to the woman, her face lit up as if, in that moment, she was transported to the day the photo was taken.

All of these moments happened within the past several days, and each one reminded me of my mom. The joy she had when thinking of her husband. The joy she had when I would call or visit. The love my parents had. The friendship they shared. It was wonderful, but also painful.

While those memories came, I was also reminded of how precious love is. To this day, I have been, as they say, unlucky at love. The one thing that breaks my heart personally is the thought of living the rest of my life alone. From the movie, to the elderly couple in the store, to the joy on the woman’s face when reunited with a long lost priceless picture…I tried to figure out what God might have been trying to communicate to me. He’s not a cruel God. He’s not really trying to rub my nose in what others have that I don’t, and may never have.

I still don’t know what it was all about. I may never know. But I’m trying to take these moments from the past several days and simply learn from them. I’m trying to appreciate the tiniest things which really define what love truly is. So many people are looking for travel and workout partners. They’re looking for people who like to dance, go white water rafting and hike. I guess that’s all fine. But I simply want a lifetime of stuff which make moments, like these ones I’ve described, possible.

Maybe it will never happen for me. But for those who are still looking for it, ask yourself if the person is substantive enough to thrill your heart when you’re in your 80s and sharing a simple meal in a grocery store. Are you with someone who, even when nothing is happening, there’s no one with whom you’d rather share that nothing, and everything. Are you with someone who, even when no words are being spoken, they’re communicating to you that their life is made complete because you’re in it. Are they going to be there with you when you can’t remember them or even your own name? Are they going to be there when illness has made it impossible for you to take care of the most fundamental and essential things for yourself? Will you do those things for them?

I know this post is pretty melodramatic, but at the same time, maybe it’s something someone needs to read and consider. I don’t know.

Mom, I miss you. I miss the joy on your face and in your voice when you’re surrounded by those you love most. I miss listening to you. I miss the way you made me laugh when you weren’t even trying. I don’t know that I’ll ever experience what you and Dad shared, but I hope to someday. Your story was the most wonderful love story I’ve ever seen.

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