I met him at the threshold, the place that opens into our home and closes out the world. Arms reach and we press tight. I know the width of his back and he the emotion soaking my damp cheeks. Our lips meet, not with the lust-filled lip lock of youth or the quick peck of peaked parents, but with the assurance and strength of mutual days, weeks, and years.
It’s a goodbye kiss overflowing with gratitude at joyful, difficult years gone by, love built with a foundation of laughter and struggles and common dreams and wiggling little ones who question and expand hearts beyond measure. It’s love framed with loyalty and respect, steeped in shared faith that He who began a good work in us will complete it until we see Jesus (Phil. 1:6).
It is patience and understanding and bright memories like raindrops falling on a stormy summer afternoon.
There’s healing in our embrace too, from difficult months and from life’s stampeding busyness. Too many missed moments and angry glares and sharp words, mostly mine. The threshold kiss acknowledges tough trials and personal hurt and selfishness just as it welcomes grace-filled promises of new mornings and new mercies.
Sometimes, forgiveness tastes likes salty tears.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance…love will last forever!”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
We separate slowly, my tears coursing down cheeks he’s creased with smiles for nearly two decades.
“Here, honey.” I hand him the gray sweater jacket he forgot to pack, the one I dropped on the shoe basket as arms reached. The one he came back for, gifting me with this threshold kiss. He was soon boarding an airplane to New Orleans, climbing and tying ropes and learning how to inspect the entirety of bridges under his engineering care, and I’m still, always so proud of him.
But these six days are the longest we’ve been apart in eleven-and-a-half years of marriage, and I grab his shirt one more time, press in close. Time reminds, always hurrying and sometimes unkind, and the echo and murmurs of ‘I love you’ dance by my ear as he turns to leave.
I feel a moment of pained panic as I shut the door, fighting back with the words of the apostle Paul, words inked on the Valentine’s card hiding inside his suitcase.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” (Phil. 1:3)
Thank You Lord that through our imperfection and selfishness, You shine through to guide us in this beautiful covenant relationship, marriage. It’s so tough, so difficult at times to love like we’re supposed to, like Your Word tells us to, but it’s also awesome and comforting and worth the effort. Always worth fighting for. Thank You for the difficult days and memorable years of marriage that fill our hearts and keep us turning to You and make us realize that we’re better as one, in You.