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Raising My Ratings

I kissed my husband yesterday. It was a nice kiss, maybe a 2 on the Richter scale. But I saw a video clip of a woman whose husband just flew home from Iraq, with the crowds of people greeting the returning servicemen, and well, the kiss they kissed, the hug they hugged, it looked more like a 10. Make that 20.

I said prayers with my twin daughters last night. They were cute, and waxed eloquently, as they do, thanking God for flowers, and animals, and sunshine. I got a teensy bit impatient, as I do, when the pauses stretched out while their imaginations took meandering turns inside their hair tousled little heads. It was dear, maybe a 3 on the Reverence scale. A friend brought home her twin son this week after an excruciating half month in the ICU. Death waved at her as he passed by with empty arms, His cold, icy breath leaving icicles on the window. I can picture her prayers last night. I dare say they were deep and tearful, a 10. Make that 30.

I woke up next to my husband this morning. We exchanged opinions about the equity of quilt distribution, and got up to wriggle children to wakefulness. I was glad he was there, well in a yes-I-am-glad-I-am-still-breathing sort of way. Maybe a 1 on the Appreciation scale. My cousin got married last month. She is in her forties, and I have a suspicion that when she woke up next to her husband this morning it registered a little higher than me. Maybe a 10. Make that 40.

Sometimes I wonder which vacillates more wildly...my circumstances or my perception of them. My girls are just as adorable whether or not they have just endured a virus that rendered them unconscious and unresponsive for ten torturous days. My husband's lips are just as warm as they would be had I not felt them for a year of uncertainty. His presence beside me is as comforting as it was a month after we married. Sustaining the passion, appreciation and devotion that pours out in the wake of doubt and fear is probably exhausting. I can't say from experience. My track record is much shorter. But in His creatively unpredictable way, God has brought me to blessed gratitude many times, resuscitating me from the comma of its absence.

Like when John stumbled in the front door, panting and gasping, and said "The car died." I heard, "Chara died." My reaction was a combination of hysterical screaming and skyrocketing blood pressure. He was not thrilled about having had to walk home from work but he thought I was overreacting a tad.

Or when Benjamin had a febrile seizure at 18 months, and Chara was babysitting. The kids scanned his long list of doctor's phone numbers, picked one and dialed... the dentist. (who was not helpful) Then they called 911 and the paramedics arrived, who kept asking her "Are you the mother?" (she was 16) "Well, you are coming with us." John drove up our cul-de-sac as the EMTs drove down, wondering which of our neighbors was being whisked away. When the kids told him what had happened he turned around and tried to chase the ambulance, but not having the benefit of a flashing light and siren was encumbered by the speed limit and went to the wrong hospital.

In the minutes and days after emergencies like these, there is branded on my heart the remembrance of how far reaching my love is. The loss of each person would be an amputation. Sometimes I manage to take out of storage the shadow of that awareness, large enough to get my attention but compact enough to prevent me from keeling over.

When your husband leaves the house tomorrow morning, hold him like you will never let him go. Shake the dust off those feelings that came in such abundance while the wedding bells were still ringing, or the pain of separation was still fresh enough to hurt. Smile as if the muscles in your cheeks will carry him through the weight of his world. And maybe they really will.