There are crossroads in life. Sometimes as we pause there, we sense that something is about to be different.
Whichever way we go, things will never again be the same. A curtain to the universe has been pulled back slightly. The wind has shifted. There is some awareness we did not have before.
It is a crossroad.
In the mid seventies, I was getting ready to return to my native South Carolina after a few years in Kentucky.
Then one night I met Jay. It was a strange meeting by anyone’s assessment. I was a nurse on a locked psychiatric ward. He was the neighbor of my best friend. She prevailed upon him to bring us a pizza at work and he did.
After work, we talked. My friend left to meet another friend. Jay and I talked into the wee hours of the morning.
I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember he asked me if I was happy.
The words seemed to hang there in the dark. It was not philosophical. It was not some veiled offering that he could make me happy. It was not even his poking around my being to see if I possessed the secret to happiness.
It was a simple question that seemed a pause in life … a stop at a crossroad. Was I happy? My circumstances at the time would have screamed, “No I am not happy.”
But as to the question of what would bring me happiness, I did not know. And I don’t remember how I answered his question that night.
But I knew when we went our separate ways that morning, something had changed in me. It was subtle. It was that ripple in time.
And though I did not know it then, the cold breeze I felt was the lack of what I never knew I lacked. It was a feeling akin to longing, but I did not know what it would take to fill that empty spot.
That afternoon, I was on my way to work. I was stopped at a stoplight. An ambulance passed in front of me. Jay, who was an EMT, was in the passenger seat. He did not see me. But my heart jumped at the recognition, and I realized I was feeling joy.
That empty spot was temporarily filled. As quickly as the Joy came, so did fear. Jay was not a part of my plan. I doubted I was a part of his plan. In fact, I did not know if I would ever see him again. I only knew that in that moment of seeing him, even from a distance, I was happy.
And, as it turned out, we were a part of God’s Masterful Plan. Over the next two years of a long distance relationship (Jay moved to another city), we both found we were happy (mostly) when we were together and not so happy when we were apart.
We got married. And 44 years later, I can honestly answer his original question of whether I am happy with a resounding “Yes.” (Most of the time except when he exceeds my tolerance of his unacceptable behavior 😡)
Two years ago, Jay had open heart surgery. Ironically, the hospital is located at that very crossroad where I saw him that day after I met him.
It was another time the curtain of the universe parted a little. As he was being wheeled away from me, I realized once again that feeling of longing. But now I knew the source of the feeling. Jay had a part of my heart as I had his.
As I let go of his hand, I said, “I love you. Take care of our heart.” And so I held my part of our heart in prayer while he slept. And he held his part in his dreams.
And God held both parts close together, as the surgeon worked.
He recovered and I am so thankful for every day we have been given. Sometimes when I see Jay sleeping, I see the 22 year old who asked me if I was happy … and I answer silently in the dark, “Yes, my love, I am very happy.”