Paradise lost…


“Losing you changed me.  I’ve been quiet and quick-tempered.  And when I’m shown concern, I’m blunt or allusive.  I avoid my friends.  Drink too much.  And I don’t recall when I last felt moved by someone.  I lost you.  That I understand.  I just didn’t think I’d lose me too.” ~ Beau Taplin

How could it not change me?  When we met, when we held hands, when we gently slid those rings over one anothers’ knuckles and said those world binding words.  When that happened…  He knit us together.

I don’t picture Him being some old granny with knitting or crocheting needles, gently rocking back and forth on his porch in heaven, the cool breeze like the breath of God in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  I picture him more like spiritually laying us down next to one another on a table as those words were spoken, and surgically binding us together.  Taking that perfect scalpel in His heavenly hands and gently and ceremoniously opening us up and then taking his sutures and binding us, permanently, one flesh, one body, one spirit, forever.

And we used to watch medical shows together as she liked those, and I did too, just not as much.  And I remember some were about conjoined twins and how when they tried to separate them, usually one of them didn’t make it through the surgery depending on the bond and how enmeshed they were to one another.  And that happened to me.  I was the one struggling to get free at first, I fought hard against our bond after 8 years of being together.  I was selfish and arrogant and ignorant and I disavowed her with my actions and disallowed Him with my heart.  And I damaged us so much so that she could no longer be knit together with me, be bound to me, keep me.

And so she prayed and she talked to the doctor, and she had Him separate us.  By that time she had already found a more suitable candidate to be her side buddy.  And this was completely understandable.  How could she continue to wait on a bus that was never coming?  She sat there patiently, smiling, content to give me all she had.  Sometimes I’m sure she felt as though the rain cascaded like a waterfall from the mouth of those dark clouds that loomed.  And sometimes I hope she felt that the sun was shining just for her, as if God was the lighting expert and he gave her the spotlight as she waited, just to assure her there was hope and grace.  And I pray there were rainbows to show that His promises could always be counted on even if those of men were not always.  She waited two years before she asked him to drive a God-sized chasm between us.  The grand canyon is but a sidewalk crack with soft and gentle moss emerging compared to the great gorge that now separates.

And sometimes I wish He performed that procedure reluctantly.  Sometimes I wish He picked up the scalpel and bowed His head for a moment of silence.  I know that He did that more than once when He saw me hurting her.  But part of me hopes He did it that day as well.  That maybe His all-seeing eyes shed a tear.  That maybe His all-feeling heart felt pain over us that day.  Sometimes I wish that just like angels rejoice over one sinner coming to know His Son, that maybe for a brief moment when she was signing and acknowledging, maybe heaven watched in silence and sadness over us becoming a statistic.  And as He began to separate, maybe He wept over His children forsaking His covenant.

For better or for worse?  No…  Unfortunately not…  She was decidedly the better and I made it all worse.

For richer or for poorer?  Absolutely, that was easy.  We were so poor a studio apartment seemed luxurious at times…

In sickness and in health?  Yes.  But neither of us got that bad.

I recently watched my dad taking care of my mother as her health failed.  She became so frail her last days.  I remember one day, being at their home, chatting with her on a good day, she had just eaten eggs that he made.  She barely got any down, but to her even a forkfull was an Everestic accomplishment.  And I remember coming back into the room and she had thrown up, and apologized so innocently and sweetly and pitifully as I cleaned her cheek, wiping the vomit from her face.  “Thank you Michael, I’m so sorry,” she whispered in the tiny voice that grew proportionally smaller with her frame.

And that was just one nice thing I did.  Dad did so much more.  Dad took care of her like a true man.  He bathed and wiped and wiped some more.  He dressed and undressed and redressed and made jokes and made her smile.  In sickness and in health?  Definitely for them.  Probably not for us if we had afforded one another the opportunity.  I couldn’t even give her my best in health, how could she expect it during sickness.

Till death do us part?  No.  Not at all.  Though everyday feels like a slow and painful death now.  Like Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, except he died in fun ways, like driving off a cliff with Phil at the wheel.

I knew paradise.  I knew the taste of a life so sweet, sugar seems bland.  I knew a land of riches beyond what Solomon could fathom, flowing with more milk and honey than the Israelites could eat in a thousand lifetimes.  A world that redefined joy in ways only a universe breathing God could understand and create.  And now, that paradise is lost.  He removed me from her and I was the recipient of the death sentence.  And I look over for her.  And I feel for her hand, her fingers between mine.  I sniff the air, anticipating her vanilla will fill my lungs once again.  I wake up and wonder.  And I lie awake and wander.

I am an old cargo ship.  I am an antiquated ocean vessel carrying a hull full of people who didn’t make it to their promised land.  I used to be full of life and love, excitement and happiness, hopes and dreams.  But they died along with them.  Now I’m an empty, decaying sailboat with tattered sails, aimlessly drifting, a captive to the currents and a slave to the storms that toss me against the waiting rocks.

Paradise is lost… And I have only myself to blame.

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