Saturday, May 10, 2014

For our Mother.

At the Jensen Home:
We love the Lord and cling to His Word.
We invite weary travelers in need of rest to come and stay.
We believe in good coffee. Always.
We play games.
We make up dances.
We cry openly.
We disagree, but there is resolution.
We adore stories.
We wrap our rice in seaweed.
We work hard.
We forgive.
We celebrate ½ birthdays.
We embrace silence.
We cheer one another on.
We enjoy a clean house but we don’t buckle under messy life situations.
We uphold loyalty.
We remember when music was good and play it loud when we want to dance.
We stay up late talking about victories.
We eat Norwegian pancakes whenever possible.
We make Russian Tea whenever permissible.
We love bonfires.
We hold hands when we pray.
We laugh. A lot.
We check up on one another.
We bake pies and bread.
We sing our children to sleep.
We remind each other to be a blessing.
We give to the point of hurt.
We harbor Italian spirits for people and food.
We treasure Japanese passions of peace and beauty.
We stand up for one another.
We wash our own cars and clean our own carpets.
We relish each others company.
We swim whenever possible, no matter how old we get.
We miss Roy.
We name watermelon, "dessert".
We use olive oil to heal ear infections.
We move picnic tables...

And lastly,
We all share the same truth,
That no matter if separated by distance or time-
our hearts will always be at home.
Even when they aren't beating beneath the same roof.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Diamond Days.

Some days at work can be hard.
Sometimes it feels like failure is a suit coat I put on each morning.
It is heavy and dark and swallows me up.
Those are the mornings that nothing goes right.
I spill my coffee.
My complexion is angry and splotchy.
I have unruly hair and I overreact to every question or correction.
Each patient that walks through the door seems to demand more than
my pumping heart can handle. And they can be mean.
Gosh can people be mean.
So those days are hard.


There are also days like yesterday.
Filled with a moment like this one,
in which every struggle fades into the background,
and one is simply left... holding a miracle.


He would walk through the door with a cap in one hand
and his cane in the other. His step was slow but his wit was quick.
He was of the kind who was kind. Always a discerning eye and
the ability to look into yours and make you feel important.
He was magnetic.
And when he drew you in, you never left empty handed.

Take for example the last time I saw him.
I stood making his usual cup of coffee and he asked
me questions about my husband. He listened and smiled
as he always did. He'd been married for nearly 50 years.
So I asked him if he had any advice and he leaned slowly over and told me.
It was lovely.
So I held onto it.

That was six months ago.
Fast forward to yesterday.

A women came in with a face I did not recognize,
but with a last name we all did. I waited until the reception area cleared
and it was just her.

"Excuse me, but you're last name is so familiar...are you by chance related to..."

"Yes." She said. "He was my husband."

None of us moved.
That one word.


Past tense.
She nodded quietly. Tears were forming as she confirmed it.
He had passed just over a month ago she told us.
More patients arrived on the scene.
Phones started ringing and the hustle and bustle of office life broke the silence.
Not wanting to further extend or make spectacle of her grief,
we quietly offered her our condolences
and expressed to her that which she already knew-
how much he was loved by everyone he met.
She thanked us graciously and took her seat.

I sat behind my desk and stared at the keyboard.
Hot tears began to well up and spill over onto the keys.
I remained motionless, hating myself that in those moments of loss
I so rarely know what to do or what to give someone.

But suddenly there it was- the memory of my last conversation with him came tumbling to the forefront of my mind,
as if it knew it had something important to give even before I did.

So I stood up and walked over to her.
I asked her if it would be alright to share something.
This of course took her by surprise but she obliged. I took a seat
and took her hand, exactly as he had done with mine 6 months prior.
It was wrinkled, soft, and warm. Just like his.

"He told me a secret the last time I saw him. About your marriage.
Would you like to know what that was?" I asked her.

At this point her hands began to tremble but her eyes were clear and strong.

"Yes. I would like that very much" she said.

So I brought out the gift that had been entrusted to me that half a year ago.
(the one I had kept for its' simple truth and beauty)
and handed it back to her. It was then I realized it was always hers to begin with,
that I was just keeping it safe until the right time.
I took a deep breath and began.

I told her how he had pointed out the window to their car
and whispered that the key to his wonderful life was sitting in the passenger seat
waiting for him, napping in the sun.

I told her how he called her his beautiful bride and how his face lit up when he said it.

And lastly, I told her how tall he stood when he said that he woke up every single morning with the realization
that if he had the choice each day of winning the lottery or being married to his best friend, he would pick her.
Every time.

"Every time" I told her.

When I was finished I sat quietly, fearful that perhaps I had overstepped my bounds.

"Have you heard him tell you that before?" I asked.

Her silence and and steady gaze made me think that perhaps she had,
or that perhaps I was making things harder and should have kept it all to myself...

But then her countenance began to morph.
Her smile grew until she was shining,
and sweet tears began to flow.

"No. No dear, I have not...not in those words exactly..."

She did not say anything more.
We both sat in the stillness of it all.

Shortly after, her name was called and she was brought back. The moment ended just as suddenly as it had been made. A half hour later she waved quietly to me as she left. I mouthed her a goodbye while I finished checking in the next patient. And just like that, she was gone.

The rest of the afternoon was uneventful. All the typical phone calls, typical scheduling, typical to do lists...
Nothing had changed...
And yet all was different.

Even now as I sit a full day later,
the magnitude of those 5 minutes is still so humbling.

Because somehow, in an empty waiting room in Rockford Illinois, God allowed a failure-adorned receptionist to deliver something exquisite.

A love letter.

It's all still true.
Some days at work can be hard.
But yesterday, dear friends,
was not that day.

What might God have in store for you today?