“Let us not love with words or speech
but with actions and in truth.”
Normally, without her consent, I’d never post a photo of my wife sleeping. This, however, is an exception. What you see in the photo above is a beautiful woman doing exactly what the apostle John exhorts us all to do in the passage above (1 Jn 3:18). Let’s recognize and appreciate this. If you are a young person searching for a lifelong husband or wife, take note of what real love looks like.
To understand this photo, I need to provide some context. Yesterday I had my 13th vocal cord surgery due to a virus that keeps attacking them. Usually, I must drive 6 hours to Pittsburgh to have this surgery done, but due to changing circumstances, I needed a one-time surgery in South Bend.
Having had about 20 lifetime surgeries, we don’t make a big deal about it anymore. My first thought was to make the short walk to the hospital and just have her come and pick me up when I was done. But Margy wanted to be with me yesterday and I admit it was nice to be together again. Over the years, we’ve bonded in pre-op rooms and doctor’s offices.
The beauty of the photo above can truly be understood only by knowing this context:
- She felt tired the night before and hadn’t gotten a good night’s sleep.
- She still woke up about 5:00 a.m. to shower, & make the kids breakfast and lunch.
- Dropped me off at the hospital at 6:45 a.m.
- Came home to take 3 kids to school.
- Returned to the hospital around 8:15 a.m.
- Left the hospital to rescue someone in pinch with a spare key.
- Did all of the above cheerfully. (The difference between true love and mere duty.)
But even more important to know is that a couple days earlier I did something that hurt her feelings very badly. I apologized, but still she had to forgive me. She did, and she forgave me not in a reserved or conditional kind of way, but in a real way. And then she picked right back up and kept loving me.
What is the effect that this kind of love has on everyone else?
- Well, our kids see what she does for everyone. They are learning lessons without her even saying anything. I am confident that they will remember these things when they are adults.
- I’m watching and learning.
- Other people who know her must notice similar things.
When someone commits to you like this – even when you have just hurt them – it inspires you. In all honesty, we both find marriage to be hard. We scored dismally on our pre-Cana marriage compatibility test two decades ago, so badly that Fr. Glynn shared with us that the directions said to strongly discourage us from getting married. Obviously, we got married anyway. Twenty-one years later, that test turns out to be true on a daily basis. I can’t remember a single time where we have finished each other’s sentence. Very rarely do we “click.” We perceive things and react to them differently most of the time. It’s pretty frustrating. Both of us wish it could be easier. I’m sure that many married couples enjoy that kind of natural and easy connection. Not us. For us, love is hard so it’s important to recognize it when you see it. That’s why I just had to take and share that beautiful photo or her asleep.
What is the result of this love?
As you can imagine, it inspires me to fight the good fight against all my health problems. She needs a healthy husband and our children need a healthy father. I consider it my moral obligation to do everything I can to prevail over my health challenges. Margy’s love motivates me to fight, to eat, to hydrate, to exercise, to sleep properly, to stay positive, and never to drink the poison of self-pity. To do this, I need to create an internal attitude of love and determination within myself. I assure you that it does not come naturally. This is something I must intentionally work on everyday.
Right before Margy arrived at the hospital yesterday, I needed to take a picture to maintain my Snapchat streak with my daughters. On surgery days, it can be unsettling for our kids to see their father off again for another one, so I usually try to strike a funny pose or one that gives them confidence and reassurance. Due to the love and care from their mother, yesterday’s was an easy Snap taken hastily with a nurse knocking at the door. The girls loved it. Surgery went fine.
Then, as if Margy hadn’t already done enough, after she brought me home she drove to the store and purchased me the go-to ice cream reminiscent of our early days together in Arizona. The ice cream would soothe my throat but the particular brand of ice cream meant something to me too. A subtle nod to a previous joy together.
After sleeping most of the afternoon because of the anesthesia, imagine my happiness to wake up to my favorite flavors of Ben and Jerry’s! Both the ice cream and the gesture behind it inspired me to get back to work on my health.
On my list of daily health tasks, I’m required to take 10,000 steps everyday. I had already built a base of several thousand before leaving for surgery, but I still had a ways to go. Still groggy from the anesthesia when I awoke in the late afternoon, I knew it’d be a challenge. But armed with the love of my wife and my walking rosary, I threw myself into the task… BAM!
Success! Thank you for loving me, Margy.
I love you too. – BK
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