You Love Me Best

I remember driving through an Ohio cornfield with Rob soon after we’d met back in 2001. An old white farmhouse with a broad front porch rested atop a hill in the distance, its red barn sagging on the lawn behind. “When I’m old, I want a front porch like that,” Rob told me, “with two rocking chairs — one for me and one for you.” At 23, Rob already had gray hair and grand visions of spending his old age smoking a pipe and reading great novels. I was thrilled; a future together was exactly what I wanted too.

A month later, he asked me in a letter to marry him. That November, he made his request official with a ring. While we were to enjoy the next 17 years together, rocking away our latter years on a broad front porch was a future we wouldn’t see.

Author Megan Devine writes, “It’s tempting to tell a grieving person to look to the future. What most people don’t understand is that your person is missing in the future, too. There is no place their absence doesn’t reach.” As times has passed, our life here in Massachusetts has settled into new regular patterns that seek to accommodate Rob’s absence. We now have a working plan for carpooling, for school mornings, for chores around the house. These new patterns help us immensely; but, with much of the day-to-day routine ironed out, my mind and heart have had the space to look ahead. And time and again, I find Rob missing there too. 

I sift through our dreams for the future like I look through the clothes in Rob’s closet, wondering what I should save and what needs letting go. After almost 20 years together, every dream has his fingerprints on it. It’s hard for me to think about my future — finding fulfillment in a second-half career, launching our children into adulthood, growing old — without him in it. And yet this is the path God in his mysterious wisdom has asked me to walk. He knew I would be called to fulfill my wedding vows in this painful way. To have and to hold, to love and to let go. 

As we continue to process our loss — the past, the present, and the future — the Lord Jesus is reminding me anew of the vows of love He has made to me. He also promises to have and to hold, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish. But His vows to me cannot be broken by death. Instead, they have triumphed over it. Of all other loves, He has loved me best.

One night, the kids and I sat and talked about the night we learned of Rob’s death. Together we created a narrative of the evening that changed us forever. We shared what we could remember, each filling in memory gaps for the other. We remembered the words that were spoken, the arms that held us. We remembered the verses I read as I claimed God’s love over us even the darkness. “You are worth more than many sparrows … I have loved you with an everlasting love … I have called you by name; you are mine.” These vows of love have upheld us these last four months, and I trust that they will continue to sustain us in all of the days ahead. We are held. We are loved. No matter what. We are His Beloved, today and always.

Published by Clarissa Moll

Discovering grace in grief

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