*Based on a true story*
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Once upon a time long ago, in a land far away…
He was young, and who could blame him for his young love? For she was, as fair maidens are, young, carefree, beautiful, and surely a catch of all catches. And that’s what he wanted; that’s what he liked.
So he went to his mom and asked her for her opinion and wonderful words of maternal wisdom. You think she’s the one for me, Mom?
. . .
He was young, but older. Young, but more mature. More ready. This one was even better than the last. She was, it seemed to him, everything he ever wanted and in no way could he see himself with another.
So he went to his mom and asked for her opinion and wonderful words of maternal wisdom once again. Mom, I really think she’s the one this time…don’t you?
. . .
He was older, but not old. Mature. Ready. With a gentle strength and a humble assurance. There was no quiver of question nor danger of doubt in his mind. Determination glimmered in his eyes, and a sure certainty in his heart. In her he found a blessing he never deserved, but he knew better than to let go for that reason, for to release a gift given by the very One who breathes blessings on even the most downcast of sinners would surely be a mistake he would never cease to regret. She had captured him at first fleeting glance, honest word, true smile.
He had yet.
He had yet to capture her fully, completely, firmly, resolutely.
And he could see no other way than to make her his own and nothing besides.
He had no hesitation to explore, no question to ask. He knew no reason why he should need a word of assurance or advice, even from his own mother, in all her wonderful words of maternal wisdom.
And she surely smiled in contented joy and delight as she watched her son chase the one he knew for sure and for certain he could not live the rest of his life without. She surely glowed with pride as he fought for her and as he captured her and fully, completely, firmly, resolutely, made her undeniably his, and his alone, and none besides.
. . .
Once upon a time much later from then and nearer to now…
He was, in the world’s eyes, certifiably old. As was she. Together they had passed through time, bid farewell to fading season after season, weathered through storms with her hand held tight in his, walked steadily along the path of life with both his eyes and hers on the Light that faithfully guided their feet and lit their way. Together their backs had slowly given way to the bending of time. Together their faces had slowly given way to the lines left by smile after smile after smile. Together their hair had given way to age and faded into a vibrant white.
It was written on their faces, etched onto their lives, penned into their stories. Together. Together they had grown, and together and grew. Ever since ever, they were together. Together was all they knew.
Even as he bent over her then, and again, and again, as she sat nearly motionless in the wheelchair that had long ago become her home. Even as his aged hands clasped her small, quivering own. Even as his eyes, lined with time, looked upon her frailty and yet continued to burn and sparkle with young love and steadfast devotion. Even as his mind still held captive every memory of theirs and every moment they had known together, though her own memory had long ago been taken captive by a faceless, nameless, mindless, destructive force of sorts. Even as the world saw emptiness in her eyes and weakness in her body, he saw his gift, his treasure, the one he long ago had promised to have and to hold forever and ever, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.
And so what the world saw as a sad, sad story, of love that was somehow lost with time and age and sickness, he knew as a beautiful, beautiful story of a love that was and is and will be strengthened with time and age and sickness.
And what the world saw as a love he should be preparing to release and let go and bid farewell to, he knew as a love he began to fight for long ago and a love he would never give up the fight for. For love, to him, was exactly that: something to be fought for not once, but again, and again, and again, and again, forever and ever, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.
And so he gave and kept giving, fought and kept fighting, sought and kept seeking, searched and kept searching, served and kept serving, spoke and kept speaking, remembered and kept remembering, loved and kept loving.
Then, now, and tomorrow, and forever.
Once upon a story that forever was, and is, and is still to come.
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