In February, I was scrounging about looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day present for Mitch. As a frugal, creative, awesome wife, I wanted a gift that reflected all of these qualities. (ha!) I decided to create a “date box” which would hold twelve cards. Each card would outline a specific date we would share one night a month for the next year. I took an empty box of Spark and decorated it with foil hearts to house my multi-colored post cards. I wrote out the “rules” and itineraries for each date, and stuffed each card. After adding Mr. Jackson to a few of the cards to offset that month’s expenses, the Valentine’s gift was complete!
February’s date was a “gimme.” Mitchell got to pick what we did, but had to do so within the specified requirements: The evening had to somehow correspond with the phrase “sugar and spice.” (It could’ve been an interesting evening, but rest assured, it’s G rated.) He chose to go to my favorite restaurant in Jonesboro – UpperCrust Pizza Company – and to order my favorite pizza, Spicey Four Cheese. We had the Molten Brownie for dessert – sweet!
In March, he’d been sick with pneumonia, so I did most of the work for this date. We shared a night in at the “Cottonwood Spa” complete with candles, foot rubs, and a bubble bath for him (he was still not feeling one hundred percent). The next few weeks were crazy; I prepared my kids for Benchmark tests and he tried to catch up at work from the time he’d missed being sick.
A few more trips to the doctor, some blood work, and a leukemia diagnosis later, we sit in a UAMS hospital room with an excellent view of the Arkansas Capitol.
I sit on my fold-out couch bed and our April date card sits next to me. For some reason, in February, April’s date was difficult. I was overly excited about the release of the movie version of my favorite book, Blue Like Jazz, on April 13th and, really, it’s all I could think of when faced with the month of April. So, that’s what inspired our April date. We would watch the movie together, have dinner somewhere with live jazz music, and then just revel in the existence of our God. We would look at the stars and know that he “is up there somewhere.”
“…(They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.) And as I lay there, it occurred to me that God is up there somewhere. Of course, I had always known He was, but this time I felt it, I realized it, the way a person realizes they are hungry or thirsty…”
The plan, too, was to write “our story,” to lay out some adventures for us to take. Perhaps, we would do this while waiting to be served dinner. We would talk about our future, plan. We could write it all on a napkin.
Now that we’ve been confined to our quarters, I’m trying to figure out how we can make this date happen. We can’t see the movie together (although, Mitch has made me promise to see it this weekend with someone, since he can’t) but we can be glad that God knows what he’s doing; we can write out future adventures to live, and we can start living them.
So, we will have date night. It will be in room H720 and it will be sweet. When it is finished, we will open the card for May. We will anticipate the day we can follow its instructions. I’m looking forward to this date, because it means we will be home. May’s card directs us to re-enact our engagement. We will spend the day at Lake Frierson kayaking, strolling, picnicking, and hammock-lounging.
But, until then, we’ve decided that our situation is actually pretty cool. We will be healed and will eventually return to “normal” life, and in the process, God gets to show off a little. We are made privy to miracles small and large. We are blessed to witness his children come together as one body out of love for our little family.
So, while we’re fighting this battle, I am reminded that there are a billion stars held steady by a mighty hand. To realize it – to feel it – however, may require us to walk the street in the dark.