My birthday was approaching so hubby had a plan ~ a plan I had no knowledge of. You have to know this man…he’s not a shopper. If he does happen to look for something, he doesn’t press beyond one or two places before he changes his mind and accepts another plan. This plan and purchase, he shared later, was one that had to be satisfied.
I wondered what he was doing these three days he was mysteriously out and about; yet I didn’t think too much about it ~ our pastoral schedules can lead us in opposite directions at times. On the third day, he surprised me and confessed he had found my birthday gift.
Hubby said, “Let’s meet at the jewelry store and see if you like it before it’s engraved.” I had no idea what he had planned for engraving nor even what piece of jewelry he had chosen. My initials on some item? Our wedding date engraved? His love expressed in some secret term of endearment? Standing at the counter, he offered a beautiful bracelet for me to approve. Then he told me that his choice of engraving was: “Always & Forever.” We both cried…unashamedly…right there at the counter in front of the sales lady and anyone else onlooking.
A bit of history: For the last several hours of our son’s life, Patrick had said many things of which we’ve memorized. One of the precious things he said, so tenderly, to his family was “Always and forever!” He repeated this phrase many times to persuade us of his eternal devotion, and it has become such an endearing phrase among us. We’ve comforted ourselves with it. We’ve remembered him and his love for us as we’ve used these words. We often sign text messages to our grandsons with these words.
Just days after his Homegoing, our youngest daughter saw a wooden plaque printed: “Family ~ Always and Forever.” When she handed the gift to me, she warned me that it would stir emotions. It did. And this plaque hangs on our kitchen wall to remind us continually of this truth.
At the end of the day, relationships are ALL that matters. This is made even more clear when you are at the bedside of those transitioning from life to death. Jesus made ‘what matters’ very plain to us when He gave us the two primary commandments: to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength…and our neighbor as ourselves. Simply put, we will come to know that nothing else matters.
Always and forever, love is eternal. Just in case I forget, I wear these words on my wrist remembering that it was the Lord’s words that filled our son’s heart with such love for us. In turn, we will remember and love him, always and forever.