I'm not sure whether I told you this or not, but my goal in running Saturday's Richmond Marathon is to raise funds for the Lineberger Cancer Center at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC. Becky received phenomenal treatment there for four years as we did battle with endometrial cancer. Today I got my marker out and wrote her name on my hand as a reminder of why I'm training today, knowing that it will help me embrace the pain of the marathon a little more easily.
You might have noticed that I'm still wearing my wedding ring. When Becky passed away, I told the kids I would wear my ring for one year. On the first anniversary of her death I would decide whether or not to take it off. As you can see, I'm still wearing it even though I'm no longer married. It's a tangible reminder to me of all the wonderful years we spent together. In the 37 years we were married I never ceased to be stunned by her beauty. When I held her head in my lap and moved my hands over her soft, freckled face, I would drink in all the complexities of God's creative handiwork. And yet as complex and beautiful as Becky was on the outside, she was incomparably more beautiful on the inside. Even in death, she was Becky: strong, compliant, totally yielded to her Lord, determined to make the best of life. It was as though she was telling those present in words deeper than sounds, "In even your direst needs you can trust our loving Savior." The second she drew her final breath, I knew that her spirit would live on in my life forever, and that every time I was tempted to twist myself into the narrow box of ego, Becky would be there, pointing the way to the cross.
To be married is to receive a wonderful gift from God. But it is not the most precious gift he can give us. Even if you should lose a husband or wife through death or divorce, he is there, and he will never leave you nor forsake you. Our spouse may leave us but he never can. Losing a loved one is like that giant earthquake Becky and I once experienced in California: it shakes you right off the center of your universe. You begin to say with Paul, "For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better."
No one else loves us as he does, and we will never find a companion as true as he.