things to be relieved about

  • The smiley face that came in the text reassuring me, “No worries about the bumper” and thanking me for leaving a note in the first place.
  • That SIGH-der of relief and those 10 days of anxiety that preceded. Dear God we r not ready.
  • How we can stay up late talking about insecurities and anxieties and comfort each other like two wee babes in the middle of a dark night. Waking up together to a faithful new morning again and again.

Here, nature mingles with man.

“Thank you for this wonderful wedding weekend.”

We have: one tiny bathroom with a counter full of two people’s bathroom things, one tiny fridge with two people’s worth kimchi and 4/5ths of a chocolate mousse cake, one address at which we’ve been living one married life for approximately 2.5 days.

Mark makes the bed and runs loads of laundry, to pick up those good hubby points, and I water the plants and go through the piles of paper that crowd the tiny breakfast bar.

Moments from the Wonderful Wedding Weekend that made all of the above little details possible. Overshare warning: This is just a memory dump so I can remember all the little bits. Feel free to skip along through to the pics, if you’re not about the words. ūüôā

  • One last sinkful of dishes at JoQuy’s before heading down to Cville.

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  • Friday evening rehearsal, running through it all TWICE in an hour, aw yeah. Being crowded out at 5pm sharp by the next wedding party, which had about 50 (!) people. Asking and finding out about the FULL MASS ceremony that theirs would be, tomorrow, in the time slot at the Chapel right before us. Not freaking.
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YAWL LOOK GOOD
  • Realizing that two bridesmaids and one groomsman would not be making it to the rehearsal. Still not freaking.
  • JT’s gift of a train-flattened, railroad-tracks-rock-throwing penny.

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  • Friday night Kroger run for sundry things like spray bottles for the flower stank and index cards for maid-of-honor speech notes. Reminiscing about “late night Kroger runs” and realizing that it’s only 8:30 pm. Feeling old.
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“This is the one weekend when I will indulge all your photo-taking.”
  • Salon Isabel~ Where we all got our nails did in the comfort of our hotel room.
  • Slow Saturday morning that found me and Rebs at the fitness center of the English Inn — talking about girly things like periods and constipation, as if it were any normal day.

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  • Janelle’s crucial snack run!! She provided us with lunchtime sustenance in the form of Wheat Thins and grapes and craisins. ‚̧
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snackin’ schoi
  • Getting started early on the photos, thanks to¬†Danielle’s professional 40-minutes-early arrival. Somehow blowing through those 40 minutes and being right on time for the next thing. Wondering about how she would take those hanging-dress pictures, turning around, all of a sudden seeing all those dresses hanging there like it’s no big deal. Wowie.

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  • Running out the door, somehow right on time.
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beep boop
  • First look, first exclamation: “Hey it’s not that bad!!” -Mark, referring to my dress. Nice. ūüėõ

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  • The Vogue/GQ-worthy photos on Grounds, flowers over flowers and “Mouth slightly open but not smiling!! Just like Isabel!”
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bridesmaids! ‚̧
  • Waiting for our Chapel time, chillin on the Rotunda steps with bubble tea in hand.
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a fine day for bubble tea
  • Getting really really really excited as we all stood and waited and prayed in the anteroom of the Chapel, just behind the piano-playing JT.
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clutch selfie stick
  • Starting right on time cause everyone / everything was ready. What?!
  • Walking down the aisle, arm in arm in arm with mompops. Feeling surreal. Getting there, wishing I could do it again and look at the people’s faces.
  • Shoutout to the blog, once, twice, thrice: Pastor Jeff in his message to us, Markling in his vows, me in mine… Unintended self-advertisement galore.
  • Shivering a lil bit in my shoes up there as we read our vows to each other. Part nerves, part muscle tiredness.
  • Recessional-ing to Better Together together, with our wedding party close behind.
  • Sneaking around the Chapel to get to the reception and realizing that we were on track to beat most of our guests to dinner — even though we had planned so meticulously to get everyone their supper ASAP!! But loitering loitering is a natural human thing — and a sign of a good party — so we just sucked it up and hung around outside The Local while we waited for everyone else to get there.
  • Mark STEPPING ON MY DRESS and finally tearing the hem. “Well… At least we’ve taken all our pictures already!!!!!”
  • The two dads’ welcome speeches, sweet in their own ways.
  • The Local! In all its twinkly lights glory. As the sun set, the warm lights rose and made the conversations sparkle all the more.

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  • Isaac’s best man speech, in which he socially inaccurately referred to Mark trying to “get with Madison.” ROFL.
  • Isabel’s maid of honor speech, in which le blog was given YET another shoutout and in which my sister totally showed me up with her index card eloquence.

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  • So many moments during the reception where I would look up and see pairs and clusters of chatting with other people they didn’t know before. And thinking, “Oh yeah, they¬†would have really good conversations together!”
  • Nominations for: Best Dress, Best Dessert. And compliments like “simple and gorgeous” and “you guys made it look effortless,” which is EXACTLY what we were going for!! Keep ’em coming, yawl.
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photo cred to Minsu C.
  • Realizing, at the end of the evening, that I hadn’t had ANY of the cheese on the plentiful cheese board. And having Jane overhear my offhand wistfulness-for-cheese comment and literally packing up ALL OF THE PIECES. And carting that all the way back up to Nova, stinking up the trunk. ‚̧ (And making our first batch-cooked meal, mac&cheese, naturally. See Married Life photos, below.)
  • LittleJohn’s and Cookout after party, reveling in post-wedding freedom from dresses and hair and the need to refrain from sugary oily food in order to keep the pimples at bay. FREEDOM.
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our peeps ‚̧
  • Making our Cville rounds the next morning: Bodo’s and ShenanJoe’s and reveling in the weekend that was wonderful. Feeling all aglow, all belatedly, and making dinner plans to prolong the partying just a little longer.

Aaaaand now some photos of married life thus far:

in sickness and in health: chronicles of injuries and caretaking

This surgery’s been a long time coming,¬†though we didn’t know it.

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Mark hurt his (ring) finger about a month ago, playing frisbee. He dove for a catch (read: threw his body toward the unforgiving earth with too much confidence in his youth and flexibility) and dislocated and fractured his lil digit.

At first, we thought it was just a dislocated joint, especially because he had “popped it back in” right after the crash. It took an x-ray three weeks later to reveal that he had¬†popped it back in…just not to the right place.

The joint (first one up from the base) was popped out about a finger’s width¬†on top of the rest of the hand, and the bone connecting the two joints was chipped, too. The way¬†the surgeon described it, it seemed like the three weeks’ delay had been like a desert storm on that lil chip, wearing away at it until it was no more.¬†Here, questions abound: where did the fragment go?¬†Does it get reabsorbed into the blood stream? Is there a lot of erosion going on in our bodies, normally?¬†If so, what’s doing all that jostling in there? I didn’t know how to phrase these questions appropriately and quickly enough to ask.

So the surgeon reset Mark’s joint (as a “let’s just see if this works” measure) and scheduled the formal surgery (because we were pretty sure the measure¬†wouldn’t work) for the following Thursday. And since the resetting, Mark was told to keep his hand elevated above his heart — it prevents undue swelling — and thus, the multitude of photos of the Markling in¬†the perpetual worshipful-hand-raise pose.

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After that first manual resetting, Mark was¬†in a lot of pain. A¬†desperate, helpless, sleepless¬†kind of pain that demands all your attention but only intensifies¬†when you offer it. He¬†texted me all through those first two nights, unable to sleep — midnight… 1 am… 3 am… 5 am… It was heartbreaking, and I was completely useless¬†to help. We tried getting the surgery moved up, but no luck.

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Fear and Powerlessness
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But it wasn’t all pain and tears. We did some fun stuff this past month, too. @ Thomas Sweet.
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also, Pasta.

The surgery day finally came, and as it approached, Mark’s fear grew and grew. It was kind of astounding to me, because I have an¬†almost unnaturally blase attitude toward¬†medical procedures. Needles, blood-giving, surgery…it’s all NBD to me. All the opposite for¬†Mark. He despises needles, hates the thought of steel¬†objects penetrating his dermis,¬†fears physical pain above all else. Don’t tell the terrorists, but he would last zero seconds under torture…

The fear was¬†palpable and uncontrollable. I was even getting frustrated with him¬†— the fear becoming bigger than a matter of¬†the finger and the pain itself¬†and triggering¬†questions of character, of faith. Why is he so afraid/what is it that makes me not as afraid? At the core, I trust in the medical establishment and their ability to make me better. Does he not believe¬†that? Is this a trust-of-establishment thing? Why does he always expect the worst? Is it a God thing?¬†Does he not believe that God has this under control? Is he even praying?¬†

I tried, really, to be patient — though I broke down at the last minute and mini-yelled at him to “Stop meeping!” right¬†as we were walking into the surgery center. Worst, ever. I know. He forgave me, gracious even amidst the fear.

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Behind this tight-lipped smile is fear and anxiety, don’t let him fool you and please pray for him.

We met with the surgeon and discussed what the procedure would be like. Mark was small and shivery in his flimsy hospital gown and high-fashion hair net. We tried to watch Food Network to distract him from the gloomy chill of the pre-op area, analyzing¬†cupcake flavors and laughing at the made-up drama of food competition TV shows. It was hard, though, because the surgeon had just told us that it would not be a good idea for Mark to travel right after his surgery, as we had been planning to do. Mark’s brother was graduating¬†the next day, so we had planned to head down to be there.

It makes so much sense, in hindsight, that we would have to stick around at home and let Mark rest over the weekend, but we just had no idea what it would be like.¬†We are¬†— luckily — both pretty inexperienced in hospital procedures and figured that as long as I did the driving, it would be no big deal for us to travel. Wrong-oh. The surgeon looked at us¬†with¬†the single eyebrow raise almost visible through his tight facial control, questioning our common sense, and advised that it would be best to take it easy all weekend, hang out on the couch, watch TV, and administer meds as necessary.

It was disappointing… But I came to be grateful for the dashed plans, because¬†this meant that both our schedules were completely free for the time that we had expected to be away.

Those four-ish hours in the waiting room flew by… I was busy texting updates and emailing prayer requests, reaching out and asking to be touched.¬†My fear bubble had grown, too, because fear is infectious — I was feeling grave and sad and¬†sending out pings in hopes of receiving some back. And receive I did.

People came through.¬†Events like these, I realized, clarify who¬†makes up your community and family. People called, emailed, texted, visited (!), letting us know that they loved us and were praying for Mark. Mark’s family even came up on Saturday to see Mark after his surgery and to grab a meal with us. Afterwards, Mark smiled like a goon and said, “I love my family,”¬†at which I cracked up cause, like, duh.

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Scott calls Mark to encourage and to love. “Be strong and courageous,” he said (Joshua 1:7). “WHAT A GOOD GUY,” we said.
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A snippet of the post-op email update sent out to the DC small group. Theme: “We are so grateful.”

The surgeon came out, showed me before and after x-rays, complete with new bits of bone and pins poking through. He said that the joint was able to bend¬†all the way to normal range (110 degrees, for those of you counting), so we’re hoping that with physical therapy, Mark can reset the doc’s PR for best recovery.

And thus began our four-day weekend of resting and worrying and relaxing and an uncharacteristic amount of cooking on my part. Like seriously, I have never cooked so many things in the span of four days. Who even am I?

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Couch-sleeper, thanks to J&Q’s gracious generosity. After finding out that we weren’t going to be going to Mark’s parents’ place for the weekend, we had to figure out real quick where we’d set this guy up — I didn’t want him to be alone. In short, my housemates are the best.
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Mac and cheese cures all.
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Bananer bread, gone in three days. Go us.
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“This is my favorite thing that you’ve ever cooked for me.” How can I not make it again? It’s super easy — pad krapow gai by Chef John: http://foodwishes.blogspot.com/2017/04/spicy-thai-basil-chicken-my-pad-krapow.html

It was a weekend of fitful sleeping, for sure, what with the¬†medicine schedule and the jingle-jangle of Rogue the dog’s midnight prowls through the living room. But we did things we’ve never. done. before as a couple: hang around the house for hours, cook multiple meals in a row, (re)watch seasons of¬†TV shows old and new, sit on the couch until my back hurt, do zero things of productivity. Like, normal people weekend activities. I know we were caring for an invalid here, but it felt kind of luxurious to me, in some ways.

And I¬†got a teensy little taste of what it means to serve selflessly — like,¬†putting my needs and wants on a back burner somewhere and thinking first about somebody else. And I noticed that¬†the caretaking¬†got easier over the weekend as I got more used to it. My selfish sharp edges were dulled a little¬†in the face of real need and a very polite customer. Mark was an easy patient, grateful and eager to get better.

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#adulting at the grocery store, where we went to take a walk and advantage of the deals.

He has his post-op appointment on Tuesday,¬†the day after tomorrow. And¬†as our super-weekend winds down this evening, the Sunday feels are real. We’re sitting here, both back in our respective productivity modes as I blog with a vengeance and he puts the finishing touches on the wedding website. But for the first time¬†in a long, long time, I feel really refreshed from what was actually a pretty stressful weekend. Ironic, yep. Such great ups and downs we’ve traveled in the span of these past 48-or-60-or-whatever hours — counting in chunks of four-to-six as the prescription bottles dictate, constantly asking for¬†the enumeration of pain levels (on a scale¬†of 1 to 10, how do you feel?), cooking and eating real meals, laughing¬†at the antics of Michael Scott (and falling asleep to an anime episode…), taking stock of one another and feeling grateful for the way things are and not how they could’ve been.

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Eating mac and cheese on the floor, enjoying a cold sodie pop and cider while we watch Netflix via the PS3. “I feel like a real American!”

Will have to keep you posted on how we fare through next week and the next; I’m sure the chronicles of physical therapy will bring more ups and downs. But as of this moment, I sit here, grateful for the weirdness, the normalcy, and all the cheezy blogposts in between.

Bad News Good News

Bad News Good News
by Marjorie Saiser

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I was at a camp in the country,
you were home in the city,
and bad news had come to you.

You texted me as I sat
with others around a campfire.
It had been a test you and I

hadn’t taken seriously,
hadn’t worried about.
You texted the bad news word

cancer. I read it in that circle
around the fire. There was
singing and laughter to my right and left

and there was that word on the screen.
I tried to text back but,
as often happened in that county,

my reply would not send, so I went to higher ground.
I stood on a hill above the river and sent you
the most beautiful words I could manage,

put them together, each following each. Under
Ursa Major, Polaris, Cassiopeia, a space station flashing,
I said what had been said

many times, important times, foolish times:
those words soft-bodied humans say when the news is bad.
The I love you we wrap around our

need and hurl at the cosmos: Take this, you heartless
nothing and everything, take this.
I chose words to fling into the dark toward you

while the gray-robed coyote came out of hiding
and the badger wandered the unlit hill
and the lark rested herself in tall grasses;

I sent the most necessary syllables
we have, after all this time the ones we want to hear:
I said Home, I said Love, I said Tomorrow.
“Bad News Good News” by Marjorie Saiser from I Have Nothing to Say About Fire. ¬© The Backwaters Press, 2016.

“The Best Thing I Did” by Ron Padgett

The Best Thing I Did
by Ron Padgett

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The best thing I did
for my mother
was to outlive her

for which I deserve
no credit

though it makes me glad
that she didn’t have
to see me die

Like most people
(I suppose)
I feel I should
have done more
for her

Like what?
I wasn’t such a bad son

I would have wanted
to have loved her as much
as she loved me
but I couldn’t
I had a life a son of my own

a wife and my youth that kept going on
maybe too long

And now I love her more
and more

so that perhaps
when I die
our love will be the same

though I seriously doubt
my heart can ever be
as big as hers
“The Best Thing I Did” by Ron Padgett from Collected Poems. ¬© Coffee House Press, 2013.


Just thinking about mumsie lee.

like,

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what does it even mean to be in love,

what does it even mean to “choose,”

and what does it even mean to decide that you will love one person for the rest of your life, and to be married to them, and to be committed to a kind of forever that no other decision in life thus far has carried with it.

like,

how is it that so many people are married and engaged and not having identity crises in numbers proportionate to those relationships,

how it is that people “choose” each other and “fall” in love at the same time cause, technically, those two things are opposite,

and how is it that love is the most ubiquitous topic of choice, of songs, of movies, of our favorite collective stories, yet nobody can answer with confidence my question of the moment: “what is your definition of love.”

like,

do people stay the same or do they grow and mature or do they do both, somehow,

do birds of a feather flock together or do the opposites do the attracting, rather,

and do we fall in lust first in order to choose to love and do people ever happen to do it the other way around.

so many pairs¬†I notice around me now are couples of stark differences. count them on your¬†fingers, one by one, and each is a union of two very different characteristics, personalities, interests, and desires.¬†from parents to the couple you see once a week at church, people known deeply and shallowly.¬†one is an extrovert while the other would rather stay home from the party. another¬†is drinks tea and the other, coffee. one dreams of beach vacations with toes in the sand and the other is grabbing a backpack for a trek through Europe.¬†it’s hard to truly tell, of course, because who knows what people are like within the¬†intimacy of their living room slow dances¬†and speaking the language of their private gazes, beneath the surface that they let other people see — not even in their identity as a couple but even in their portrayals of their public selves, as individuals.

when I imagine a couple truly “gelling” together — couples who are so comfortable in the skin of their couplehood, couples that make you comfortable in the observation of their coupleness because they’re so “meant to be” whatever that means, couples who are so together it’s electrifying, wait, not to be so dramatic but I mean like a synapse, like a brain-firing between¬†two, distinct ends connecting as one in one bright blaze of the brain, forming a new idea or remembering an old memory, electrifying¬†— what comes to mind is an artist couple so in sync with one another’s artist-ness it’s unbearable. he’s¬†scribbling out a masterpiece onto bits of toilet paper and coffee-stained¬†napkins while she¬†edits, direct and red pen ink dribbling cause apparently they’re using a fountain pen in my imagination. she¬†comes home from a long day at the office where she’s been interviewing obscure-famous people in the arts world because oh, her office is NPR and he¬†starts a conversation over dinner that makes her wonder¬†how¬†could I have forgotten to ask that question to that person today during our interview. he paints a picture of a bird and she is the only one who calls his bs — that’s really a¬†reimagining of his childhood longing for freedom in the wilderness of his backyard, not¬†really a bird, silly.

but “unbearable” is a key word in that description up there. cannot be beared. borne. bore-ed. my conception of those meant-to-be, gel-hood couples is only complete with:¬†explosive, emotional fights; crying and tearing of hairs over seemingly stupid and mundane details of life but actually¬†full¬†of meaning and secret feelings;¬†multiple¬†ruptures in the plot line of their romances, but always, magnet-like, pulled irresistibly back together until one drinks himself to death¬†or the other walks out of a 14th-floor window, chasing butterflies from her absinthe hallucination.

my very scientific and exact¬†system of logic commonly known as [Gut Feelings] tells me that, (un)fortunately, probably something like 90% of real-life couples¬†do not do this kind of gelling I’m thinking of. that these¬†extreme scenarios simply jump to the front of my mind-brain when wondering about such lofty ideas as Love aaaaaand Marriage, too, because extremes and strong impressions from the media¬†are what the imagination deals in. honestly, it’s all kinda mixed up in there with movie scenes of people running down unrealistic airport places as well as¬†secondhand¬†stories of daily-moment, small-time romance — the kind made of poopy diapers and devoted husbands who clean up after them — really only small in scale, not depth.

so, for those 90% of the population, the 90% of us, what is love?

like,

why is it so complicated for me,

why was I under such an impression that it wouldn’t be,

and why am I so full of questions and qwaveries, still.

I keep coming back to the fact that there are non-negotiables and then there are the negotiables. the non-negotiables you can try to negotiate, but ultimately, your girlfriends will set you straight about them, if you’ve cultivated good girlfriend relationships in your life. and the negotiables, you must…well, negotiate. and isn’t it perfect that the ultimate answer is so plain and tall, so deep and shallow at the same time that you’d see right through it to the bottom of the well, clear and crystal. this is madison in¬†yonderland — where time flexes itself and clarities zoom in and out of focus every other day. certainty seizes you by the moment, and the next week, leaves you choking and breathless for its betrayal. crying tears and stuff.

yep, this is the land of pro:con lists and incessant¬†justifications that aren’t only full of excuses, but actual and VALID reasonings of possibilities previously unimagined. cause what you need may not be what you want. or what you even knew you wanted, or needed, or unimagined. questioning things, deeper things,

like,

is he challenging you to become a better person, and are you, him?

does the combination of her and you make the world a better place?

will there be fulfillment, emotional, physical, spiritual, etc?

and then, even deeper deeper things,

such as,

how do you feel about winter sports and frisbee?

when you text, does it make you cheese-smile at your phone, you-know-what-I-mean? and does the answer to that question make you want to cry a little??

can you let go of everything you feel like you’ve achieved and desired for your future til now, and lay a symbolic hand upon your literal left breast, and say: God, I trust you with the rest.

?

well, can you? stop snickering¬†at the “literal left breast” up there just a moment and think about it.

the complicated yet utterly simple thing is that the answer to all these questions is like yes, and like, no, and maybe, all at the same time. yes, love is a choice, but no, you can’t discount the falling into it part cause that’s how you get started, or middled, or end up — seriously.¬†yes, you will GROW and GROW but no! you cannot set that as an expectation of the other. ¬†yes, no, maybe St. Patrick’s Day was a good, terrible, results-yet-unknown idea. yeah.

your story will be a beautiful one of lots of growth and lessons learned — you’re just not in the hindsight portion of it yet where you see it, yet. but already, so many have touched your life, carrying you from one significant realization to the next: “you two are really different; it’s cause of the s and the n” to¬†“manage yo expectations” to “I think you can have both.”

all to the refrain of “no matter what happens, this has been a worthy pursuit.”

let it be honest. let it not become a platitude.

 

layers

By the end of my life, I want to have experienced all the layers of love that my circumstances will have offered me.

Mads: All the layers of romantic love, yes, but like, all the layers of all the other kinds, too. Wow. Can you imagine what kind of life you would be able to lead if your goal, each day, was to experience more layers of loves? To give, to receive, to witness, to empower others to do…all kinds of layers, of all kinds of loves! Marriage love and parent love and acceptance love and covering love. And tucking-into-bed love and you-can-shower-first love and let-me-rub-your-tired-feet love and here’s-some-soup! love and dearly-beloved-we-are-here-to-say-our-goodbyes love.

Meesh: Yeah! I mean, the Bible is full of commandments to love one another, honor one another, mhmm!

It is a good thing you are here, Meesh, to tap my path straight and remind me of the purpose of it all. I can wander into lalalayerland far and wide, if left to my own devices. Thanks for remembrin’ us about the Bible. About our God. And of His plans and purposes and layers of love for us. Without that, it’s just indulgent philosophizing.

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