I can’t believe I’m standing here in front of all of you. You know much I hate doing this, but the dull ache in my chest compels me to say something. Especially after I only found out that you were leaving through Facebook. Your husband received a job promotion, and you’re leaving all your relatives and friends to move to a new state.
When you and your husband crossed my threshold six years prior, I noticed your clenched jaw and skittering eye contact. A bulging purse hung from your shoulder and your arms were burdened with a thick spiral notebook, a calendar, and your zipped up leather covered Bible. Not once did you glance toward your husband’s eyes, and then I saw the grey cloud that had settled over your marriage.
You chose a chair that sat by itself so that your husband would have to sit across the room. Refusing my hospitality, you brought in your own sealed plastic cup with a hard plastic straw. From time to time you sipped from it, through habit instead of refreshment. You sat rigidly on the edge of the soft cushioned chair, ready to flee if necessary.
Not once during the Bible study did you break your sullen silence. When your husband spoke, your eyes rolled toward the ceiling and your lips pursed into a thin line. I felt as helpless as an actor who enters in the middle of a play without a script. Several times I thought to say something to you, to somehow put you at ease, but I had no remedy for your unspoken malaise.
Over several months, I sought out opportunities after the study to speak with you and peek behind your heavy curtain. The cautious inquiries I sent your way were returned with one or two words. Every week you came with your hat of storm clouds, plodding your way through the marriage muck. I admit I held little hope for you and your husband. But of course against that grim backdrop miracles often happen.
Admitting his lack of knowledge, your husband apprenticed himself to successful husbands. Doggedly he followed them, soaking up truth to replace the rotten lies. He sat reading his Bible for hours, fashioning a sword to saw through his chains. Laying his failures before trusted men, he managed to sort them out and put them away. You were dumbfounded by the changes.
I remember that May evening, fragrant with gardenia and orange blossoms. Hearing a hearty laugh behind my front door, I rushed to admit our guests. Your curving smile looked strange on your face as your glowing husband allowed you to enter first, your arms empty. His strong arms held your books as well as his own. His eyes followed your every movement, shining with new light.
You accepted my offer of coffee and settled down on the smaller couch where your husband nestled close to you. The two of you formed one organism that pulsed with life. We basked in the warmth of your rekindled fire, hoping that it would spread to all of us.
When I first met you, you wouldn’t have followed your husband into a grocery store, and now you’re packing up your life and your dreams to follow him across the country into a new life.