God restored the years the locust had eaten when He gave you to me as a friend, then husband. He and you gave me the best one-third of my life on this piece of heaven on earth, this Sanctuary we named Thistle Cove Farm. When I tell people how we met, then courted six years before finding our sanctuary here, the place of our heart, they gape. Really, there’s no other way to describe the look on their faces: they gape at me. Apparently, in this day and age, six months is a long time and six years unheard of.
Your life had symmetry. You had twenty-two years then you and Cathy, the love of your youth, had twenty-two years, then you and I had another twenty-two years. Yes, it’s true those first years were rocky, for both of us, as we made our way forward and, truth be told, we had our share of arguments but even they were overshadowed by the
good great times.
I was used to seeing women grieve; indeed, aunts and grandmothers taught me, by example, how to grieve, but your grief staggered me in its enormity. It was bone crushing, soul baring and as relentless as an incoming tide. Yes, females taught me how they grieved and to help you I did what I did for them…I listened. I listened mostly without comments, without judgement, without condemnation and for as long as you wanted to talk. Day after day, night after night I listened as you worked your way through the darkness but, I have to admit, I’m so glad I never met Cathy because
I’m afraid I would have compared myself to her. You never negatively compared the two of us, at least if you did, you never told me and I’m grateful for that gift.
Once, someone asked what did I see in you and I thought, “If you have to ask, I’ll never be able to explain.” I watched and waited as you made your way through the darkness, the alcohol and nicotine and thought, “Whatever you have left when you come through this is worth waiting for. I will wait.” You loved Cathy with everything you had and, in time, loved me as well and, yes, it was worth the wait.
The three of us, God, you and I, built something wonderful, strong and glorious on this farm. We’re leaving it far, far better than we found it; it’s a testimony to love, hard work and God’s grace and mercy. We’ve shared meals, gardens, festivals, animals, sheep shearing, the house and the land with family and friends as well as people we met the day they showed up at the door or camped in the meadow. All these years I’ve lived a life full of grace, filled with happiness and, perhaps more importantly, contentment. Within my heart and soul these old Appalachian Mountains hold a racial memory of kith and ken gone before both here and in those craigs and vales of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. You felt the same way once you acclimated to living daily life at a calming, peaceful, slow, love-growing pace.
The first time I saw this valley I knew I was home and, no matter what happened or didn’t happen, I knew we could make a life here. We made a life the likes of which neither of us even dared to dream and as grand as it’s been and as hard as we worked, God made it all come alive. He has lived here, with us, as surely as the wind rattles the trees, and has seen every sunrise, watched every sunset, heard every cry, wiped every tear, wept with every sorrow, rejoiced in all our happiness. All the while, He encouraged our dreams and gave us strength for both the journey and the work.
We’ve lived deeply! Our lives have been rich lives that are evidenced in every nook and cranny. Every stick of furniture, every animal, almost every blade of grass has a story, a history both before and since; to de-clutter is an act of treason, of tossing old friends to the curb, of saying, “You no longer matter.” It all matters because being rescued, rescuing and the stories make up our lives. We rescued each other, then other people and, along the way, countless animals. I can walk to each unmarked space and remember who, lovingly, was laid to rest. Thistle Cove Farm became Sanctuary for all, beginning with you and I, who needed the succor of God’s grace, mercy, love and kindness. It’s been the same grace, mercy, love and kindness of God that’s kept me safe since your Home going. The bitter agony of losing you is still a punch to my gut. It still catches me by surprise, causes tears to gush, brings me to my knees but I was right…had it not been for the animals, I would not have made it when you died. I would have given up and missed all the blessings God has for me but God has kept me safe. He’s given me His strength, His hope and finally His peace. Yes, God has kept me but I’m still waiting for the light to enter the place my heart used to be.
Dave, we lived life on this farm and we lived it well and true! You grew me into the wife you wanted and I, willingly, became that woman. Yes, I trusted you…I do trust you…that much and you’ve never let me down. You were the husband women dream of…the words ‘provider and protector’ show your image in the dictionary. As importantly, you saved me from myself just as I saved you from the darkness and, in those final days, God saved you as you made your peace with Him. Ours is story after story after story of saving; it’s what we did best.
You were as surprised to find love again as I was to find it the first time. I was content with friendship but love was the gift when unwrapped and now it seems the wound in the space that was you is so broken and raw, is healing even possible? I don’t know. I am simply lost without you. I want to move forward, but I know I cannot unless God leads my way.
The Good Book says to everything there is a season and, maybe, this is the season of saying good-by to this particular Sanctuary, this beautiful valley, our peaceful farm. Dave, don’t worry; even though I am no longer sure of anything else I know God loves me and is preparing me. For what, I don’t know but I know He has a good plan for my life and I still choose to trust Him. He holds me in His right hand of mercy and will never fail me.