We were singing when some late comers arrived to church. He, the epitome of Santa Claus, white beard and belly, had his wife on his arm helping her fragile form down the aisle toward a seat near their “where we normally sit” chairs. She shuffled uncomfortably along with him, her tongue hanging out to the side slightly – a side effect of the cancer meds. The adult diapers under her pants rustled slightly as she struggled forward. Her swollen “prednisone” face carried a sheepish smile and the obvious telltale signs that she has very few time left.
The song continued…
“Even while I’m walking
Through the valley
Of death and dying
I will not fear
‘Cause you are with me
You’re always with me”…
My wife wept. I wept. I’m not sure anyone else knew why. And I didn’t care.
“Santa” would later go down to teach Sunday School; she would listen to the sermon as she has done time and time again. The testimony to faith and community in that hard-fought arrival… the bravery and faithfulness shown in that moment were palpable.
Oddly, and I’m at a loss to describe exactly why, it was one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen.
I tell this story now because she passed away earlier this week. She was a familiar stranger with whom I’d never actually had a conversation but one who spoke volumes to me that day through the simple act of doing what she always did, her man at her side.