Every once in awhile, I come across a story that tugs at my heartstrings. This is one of them. It is my favorite kind of story because all of us, at some point in our lives have been ‘forgetful brides’.
My Forgetful Bride
This picture was taken in the North Carolina mountains in May of 2017, about a year after our son Kappel died in a motorcycle accident. Tish and I had slowly begun to find our feet, and to breathe a bit, leaning into the “new normal” of waiting until Heaven to see our boy again. Our marriage seemed to be surviving the stress of losing a child, as we found comfort from God, each other, and those friends and family who surrounded us with love. But, in the midst of all that comfort, we were also trying to navigate Tish’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, and what it might mean for our future. I knew, in my head, that God had all things in His control, but still … I wondered if I really trusted Him for what might be next. And then … things with Tish began to quickly drift. She began to forget simple things, and then not-so-simple things. I often had to repent of my impatience with her.
In May of 2018 I planned a three week trip to Ireland. We would rent a car and wander the countryside. It would be a great escape, with no agenda and no pressure. On the second week of the trip, while we were driving up the stunning Western coast of Ireland, Tish looked at me and said “i’m not real sure who you are.” I pulled over and looked in her eyes. She was not joking. She did not remember that I was her husband. And that was the beginning of my new new normal. What would be next?
On one of our last days in Ireland I was asked to perform for a group of about 50 American and Irish university students. I had met with their marvelous leaders earlier in the trip and shared my grief of losing my son in the blink of an eye and now, it seemed, losing my wife in slow motion. I performed one of my shows for them in the afternoon and was planning on performing another that night. Tish was tired and was already in bed before the evening performance. But, instead of a performance, the leaders asked me if I could just tell the students a bit of my recent story. I did. And then, the students asked if I would sit in the middle of the room while they surrounded me to pray for me. They prayed gently, but fervently. One of the leaders, who had also lost a grown son in an accident, prayed, thankfully, for the assurance and hope of Heaven, where “all will be made well”. Tears flowed. Then, a long silence. And then … then a young Irish woman prayed. She prayed simply. (I can still hear, in my head, the melodious timbre of her Irish accent) She prayed quietly, “Lord Jesus, you know what it’s like to have a forgetful bride.” And that was it. I laughed through my tears. This young Irish student probably had no idea how prophetically she had prayed. I was reminded, powerfully, in a flash, that Jesus knew, of course, better than me, what to do with a forgetful bride: Love her. I was reminded that I, with all my doubts and wondering and impatience, was His forgetful bride. And he … he simply loved me. He simply loves me.
It has been over a year since that Irish prayer. Tish’s Parkinson’s Dementia is getting steadily worse. Today, we celebrated our 35th anniversary at a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina. I reminded her this morning, as I do every morning, “I’m your husband, and I love you.” This afternoon, when we returned from a marvelous late lunch at a stream-side mountain restaurant, she looked at me quizzically and said, “You’re my dad, right?” I gave her my standard reply (she asks this often) of “Nope. Your Dad’s been dead for 10 years and I’m a whole lot better looking than your Dad ever was”. She laughed and went to pet the dog.
So … the days are getting very interesting for me. I wait, with great anticipation and joy, the soon birth of my first grand baby to our sweet Lily and her marvelous Ridge. God only knows what life with my forgetful bride will look like in the coming days. But, I know that as His forgetful bride, Jesus will keep on loving me. I will pray to do the same to all those dear to me, especially my bride.
By Curt Cloninger