“MARK! WATCH OUT!”
My husband jerked the steering wheel but still grazed the parked motorcycle with our car. It was the second minor driving accident in two days.
Being the calm, soothing wife that I am, I asked, “What’s WRONG with you? You are driving like a mad man. Can’t you SEE????”
His negative answer surprised me. “Not really. I’m losing my peripheral vision.”
Several Taiwanese doctor visits later we received the diagnosis: Keratoconus: degeneration of the cornea.
We learned that although most keratoconus patients are able to have vision restored with rigid contacts, Mark’s eye couldn’t hold a contact. His right eye was shaped more like a football than an orb.
His cornea tissue was so thin that the inside of his eye was bulging outward, skewing his vision. Every time the optometrist placed a contact lens on Mark’s eye, his eye would spit it across the room. It is difficult to balance a convex lens on a cone shaped cornea.
“So what are our options?” we asked.
“Cornea transplant,” was the doctor’s shocking reply.
Mark’s Taiwanese doctor continued, “You don’t want to have it done here, as organ donation is rare. Buddhists believe in reincarnation and don’t want to go into the next life missing a vital organ.”
“I do perform some transplants, but I will be frank. The corneas that we receive are mostly ‘seconds’ from the states. Their quality is poor.”
Thus began a year and a half journey. We packed up our Taichung apartment, flew back to Texas and Mark was put on an organ waiting list. The sobering fact is that someone else must pass away before a transplant can be harvested.
Even after Mark’s surgery was complete, there were complications. The mother tissue didn’t bond with the foreign cornea. For 16 months, Mark endured misery as his eye attempted to reject the transplant.
It was a long sixteen months. We spent most of it hovering around a 15 watt light bulb.
Yet, as we walked together through those valley of shadows, we discovered something that the Psalmist knew thousands of years prior:
It’s in the valley that our Shepherd is nearest.
Go back with me to Psalm 23. When King David began his prose, he spoke of his Shepherd in third person.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
But when David descended into the shadows, his perspective changed. He spoke with the Lord, not just about Him.
“You are with me.”
Mark and I found this to be true not only through the transplant journey, but in each juncture where our road has narrowed and the shadows have deepened. Our conclusion?
Stop talking about prayer and begin talking to Him.
How about you? How does your conversation need to shift?
I think it was your voice that first attracted me to you.
Bold, yet gentle. Assertive, yet calming. I looked up from the word on my page and found your question on my mind. Was the seat next to me taken? No, I assumed it was not and with that, entered into an exchange of information, insights, and influence — your voice magnetic, with just a touch of magic.
You made me laugh with that voice. Spontaneous, yet somehow strategic, weaving a humorous thread of the past onto the loom of the present. You selected my whimsical yarns to intertwine with your deliberated woolen words and spun a scarf of delightful giggles that tickled me from within.
In the subsequent days, I heard you pray. Maybe it was your prayer that attracted me to you. A prayer whose roots sunk deep, shining light into the hidden recesses of your mind and heart. Your words were life and spirit, like the scribe who unearths treasures, both new and old — dripping freshness from the ancient passages and opening insights behind previously closed doors. Your voice knew God, and it was obvious He also knew you. Your pathway to Him proved straight and well-worn.
When the summer’s heat melted the sound of your voice far away, you poured words into your letters like honey on dry toast. “How my heart is thrilled with every remembrance of you,” you began and I lapped up the sweetness like a child with her first dairy dessert. “I want you to be all that God has for you,” you encouraged, and I experienced my first washing of the word. “I’m praying for you,” you reassured and I felt cherished, holy, and blameless.
In the winter’s frost, we walked into forever together — you and I. Not so much with a word, but with a vow, the kind that commits, regardless of circumstances. “In Him all things hold together,” we penned on the invitations, never truly realizing the profundity of the promise. Feeling much, but pledging past emotion, we promised without realizing the pending tedium.
As the years past, we both enjoyed and endured the children, the carriers, the culture and the conveyances. We experienced disasters, discord, and discouragements. The fights and the flights. The moments, all so ordinary, built up into one extraordinary life.
From Athens to Atlanta, Bangkok to Biltmore, Campbell River to Chiang Mai, Dallas, D.C., Dunblane, to Dalvay by the Sea, Ellian Donan to Edinburgh, Fuzhou, Guilin, Hong Kong to Hsinshu, Isle of Skye, Juan de Fuca trail, Kuantan, Kuala Lumpur, Ko Sumui to Kyoto, Linz, Linden, London to Los Angeles, Macau, McAdoo, Melk, Miscouche, Montpelier to Moncton….Phuket, Portree, to Prague… Salizburg, San Francisco, Seoul, Silver Falls, Singapore, Sooke, Sounio, to St. John’s….Taipei to Taichung… Vancouver, Václav Havel, Victoria, to Vienna…and yes…even to Zibo.
We’ve thirty-five years together – walking and talking; growing and sowing; exploring our future, explaining our viewpoints, expressing our opinions, expunging our past. And excuse the cliche’, but you are still the one.
As I think on it, maybe it wasn’t exactly your voice, or your letters, or your prayers that first attracted me to you. In the beginning it was simply your word — the Word that was in you and the Word that was you. Because through and through, you are what you say and you fulfill what you promise. You are a man of authority, leadership, and wisdom, my dear husband. And come to think of it, I’m still attracted to you. Happy Anniversary.