I still remember her warm face and kind smile. She, at her husband’s side, her comforting spirit all exuding. He, sick.
Sick and quickly dying.
We did what we could from our third floor office, but there wasn’t much we could do. Comfort was all that could help and she knew it. She knew it deep. But through her tears falling and her soft voice quavering, she kept smiling. And while her heart clung to him as firmly as the heart of a wife of decades would, she somehow loved him enough not to hold on too tightly. When it was time, she let him go with all the grace and beauty I’ve ever seen.
I should have checked on her more. She didn’t live far from us at the time. But I remember, the struggling . . . me, a young, twenty-one-year-old newlywed, just learning to leave and cleave. She, the mature, seasoned wife, learning to navigate a solitary life that had been built richly alongside a man she’d just had to bury in the earth. I felt the weight of my empty hands.
My husband, he went to her house today, neither he, nor she, knowing how our lives had once shared a criss-cross. In the winds of the recent storms, four trees had fallen on her property. Right onto her car. So my husband went along with a friend’s husband, met another friend, and they took a chainsaw or two in their strong hands and wrangled those trees, cutting and splintering and sharding all the storm’s devastation as best they could. Until they came to a thick trunk of tree. Their chainsaw just couldn’t do it. Couldn’t cut through . . . wasn’t strong enough.
The widow, she left our determined, young husbands and came back to them with an old chainsaw in her hands. Red.
“I’m not sure if it still works,” she says. “It was my husband’s and it hasn’t been used in years….”
They power it up anyway. And that old chainsaw? It sputters and revs and slices clean through that tumbled wood.
We may bury and we may let go and we may even build walls around our hearts, but love? Sometimes it manifests itself in sudden tears or an aching heart. Sometimes, it presents itself in an outstretched hand, or a burst of joy, or a deliberate laying down of stubborn pride. But sometimes?
It appears out of dust and dark corners and it’s not certain whether it holds any effect. But when brought to the Light, it revs and it roars and just like that, what stands stubborn and unbending, shards and splinters and fragments under its very resolve.
I could learn a lesson or two from that old chainsaw.