He chuckled at the memory, and then, in the instant, tears were burning in his eyes and rolling down his cheeks. That was always the way of grief: laughter and tears, joy and sorrow. Almost from their first meeting they had been in love, deeply in love, and somehow sure of each other, too. They had been secretly married before the year was out, both of them still in their colleges. And he had brought her to Glenmerle from the first, her own family being far away. Glenmerle and love and springtime, the orchard a sea of blossoms and the lilacs massed near the house. Young love in springtime— banal perhaps to those who had never known it or whose love had failed, not to him. Nor to her.
Vanauken, Sheldon (2011-07-26). A Severe Mercy (p. 21). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
A couple days after The Kiss I began to re-read a favorite book of mine called : A Severe Mercy.
It’s the closest thing to the kind of love story I wanted to write with Lindsey. It is so poignant and frankly ironic now looking back. I wanted to read it again because Sheldon and Davy built a love together that I wanted to plunge myself into if I ever had the chance again to do so. I did not want to read the last part of the book at that time simply because it’s so tragic that Davy died so young. I still have not brought myself to read the last chapters since Lindsey died.
I started reading it again and of course told Lindsey all about it and then I began to read it aloud to her a few days after the kiss because I was excited to think: “let’s do it like This”!
She was game, she was always game for anything involving being in love and growing even deeper in love.
On May 13, 2014 she texted me that morning, I had given her an extra Kindle and on it was A Severe Mercy. Here is a snippet of our conversation that morning.
**[ For those of you reading this on your phones you can try and muddle thru the part below. Word Press makes it very hard for me to insert the text of our conversation, you can just skip that for now and read on and look at the pictures and come back later on a computer to view it properly, you can click a little box with an arrow in it to make it pop out too]
We talked of marriage just days after The Kiss, there was no doubt, no question at all for either of us other than When. There was Never the thought of “if” we were going to be married. And as the hours turned into days the thought of sooner rather than later was consuming us.
Just a few days into what we knew was going to be the rest of our lives, I said to her that I wanted to get back to Texas in the next few years as my parents were getting older and I was tired of winter and she said to me, “John I will go Anywhere as long as I’m with you, Let’s GO!”
She was all in, going down the rabbit hole of our love. We ran hand in hand, neither of us ever being anywhere but side by side.
She asked for and got time off for us to be down in Texas hopefully the same week that Becca gave birth. So the week of June 20-27, 2014 was what we all hoped would be the week to celebrate Lila Rose joining our family.
We got to Texas and my everyone just enveloped Lindsey. We all knew she would be a fantastic addition to our family. We had been there 3 days and Lindsey had meet most all the aunts and uncles who lived near by and all were in love with her and so excited that we were getting married. They all asked us when were we coming to live in Texas!
Three days into our stay I came into the kitchen to the sound of girls giggling. Mom, Becca and Lindsey were all having coffee and Lindsey had a started a list. She and Becca were talking about this Pro & Con list she was making. I had slept on the couch and sleepily arrived to see the list and laughed because Lindsey made these kinds of lists all the time. I asked her what it was about and she said, “I’m making a list about the pro’s and con’s of us getting married. TODAY!!!!
I said, ‘forget the list, let’s take a Vote’!
Me and Becca and Mom all raised our arms like signaling for a Touchdown and laughed very loudly! Lindsey said “well PawPaw didn’t vote yet” and I said ‘it wouldn’t matter we have him outnumbered’! Lindsey grabbed the list and crumpled it up into a ball and said, “Let’s do it”!
And so began a Whirlwind of a day……
My God I loved her. She was the most fun person to be around. Many Many times I told friends I felt like I was just on a ride at the fair or a passenger on a train. That is what it was like so much of the time. Lindsey Loved to LIVE and she learned how I needed to be loved and she let me love her as deeply as I dared.
Texas has a 72 hour waiting period from the time you fill out the Marriage License…….BUT if you ask a judge he can waive that and you can get married the same day if the judge signs off on it.
We took the waiver form down to the judge who was actually in his courtroom hearing a case. I opened the door and caught the eye of the Bailiff. He came to the door and we asked him if he would mind getting a sign off so we could get married.
The Bailiff kinda took a slight step back, before him stood a Unique to say the least collection of people. Becca who’s 22 was just about to pop with Lila. My mom is 73 at the time. I am 52 and Lindsey is 31 lol! He asks me and Lindsey “are y’all related?” lol and I said ‘No but we Want to be, Today!’ He shuffles a second and gives us another curious look and then disappears into the courtroom gets the signature from the judge and then says to us “here ya go and good luck”!
The rest of the day is a total blur of activity.
I tried and tried to get in touch with my brother to no avail. Of all days to have phone trouble this was the only day I think he never had a working phone in years! It dawned on me about 3pm that we really needed a photographer and so I called my very good friend, Trey Neal and he was thrilled for us and said he would surely be honored to shoot the wedding and he would get there as soon as possible. He was over 60 miles away at the time, but luckily had his camera with him.
My mom and Dad’s pastor, Tracy Jantz is also a great friend of the family and at the drop of a hat was Excited to be able to marry us that afternoon.
Everything was going perfect, we had a minister, and a photographer. Lindsey, mom & dad and Becca. Mom and Lindsey went shopping to find some Peonies which are her favorite flower of the spring. Mom and she also cut some roses from a bush in the yard.
At 4:39pm mom gave her a gift she would wear everyday, until I took it off her after she died. A beautiful James Avery design silver cross on a very fine chain. I put it on her neck in the living room of the house I grew up in and we then ventured into the front yard to stand under the sycamore trees that I helped plant as an 11 year old kid. Our little wedding party all wearing the brightest smiles on a warm,perfect summer day. Trey took the last image of us in the front yard at 4:52.
I will Never forget that happy day. It was like living inside a dream. My “perfect” girl had basically asked me to marry her that day. She couldn’t wait any longer. Lindsey decided that it must be kept a secret. She couldn’t bear the thought of not having her mom be a part of a day she had dreamed about since she was a little girl. So outside a Very small group of people we knew would never tell we did not tell anyone about our secret wedding.
Lindsey never moved into my home fully until after our big wedding in October but those intervening months were so lovely. We felt as though we had “cheated”, that we had “rigged the game”. She would say to me frequently, “I am so happy to have a secret husband” and I would tell her there was nothing better than having a secret wife.
Below is link to an image gallery taken by Trey Neal. One year ago today………..
The last image is a card from Lindsey found in the house on January 24th which happens to also be my brother Randy’s birthday! I hesitate to call it a “miracle” but it felt amazing when mom called me and told me they found in the house this card and of course we all just cried again at the joy of loving Lindsey and the joy of being loved by her.
No Fear in Love
Some parts of our life together was difficult, but in taken as a whole the experience with her was one of such joy. I mean even when we would have a conflict it never felt threatening to the status of our love, if anything is simply helped us see the other person’s unmet need that began the conflict. We would just apologize knowing it would immediately be not just forgiven but become a moment again to build something better, something stronger, something more loving.
For the first time in my life, Love was truly unconditional. Lindsey Rae brought to Reality what I had always hoped I would find with God. It took her hand in mine to prove to me that kind of love was even possible.
She Never viewed weakness as something to be hidden.
In my moments of weakness she made me feel safe. In my moments of terror she crushed my fears.
She gave me security for the first time in my whole life, I did not always have to be strong. My fears were not a threat to her at all.
For the first time in my life I was free to fail. To fail God. To fail myself and to fail her. That was not permission to fail. Or to fail willfully, but just to be Human. To be flawed and yet loved, to be Loved IN my flaws, fully and without fear that love would be withdrawn or restrained. Her love for me gave me wings on which I would fail but I would fail while attempting and learning and eventually flying, for the first time.
God is Love. There is no fear in Love. Perfect love casts out fear.
I have cried some tears today. I have laughed at remembrances of funny things she said. Some tears were happy and some were sad but I did not have any fear today. The Love was too strong.