It’s Sunday afternoon and the haze of sleep is settling over us both. I feel my limbs heavy, asking for a moment or two to close eyes and breathe deeper and rest, find a moment in the chaotic joy of seeing him again to sleep. At first I fight it – we only get so many days, and I want to be awake for them, I want every moment with this man who in the airport late on a Friday night makes my whole heart swell in my chest at the sight of him, who catches me and kisses me in baggage claim, in front of everyone, and pulls away only to hug me closer to him. Because that embrace is home.
But two days later and the cold I’ve been trying to ward off won’t budge, wants time to move through and around my body, and my body politely insists on sleep. We sit on the couch on the porch, in the cold October sunshine, and I put my feet across his lap and he sits reading a commentary on Genesis and he piles more blankets on me to be sure I’m not cold, to be sure I’m peaceful. I feel his steady breathing, the rise and fall of it. There is a silent joy among the birds and branches, the leaves descend towards their winter resting place and a car pulls in the driveway and someone goes to the grocery store and someone else comes home from a different church activity, and we sit on the porch and I fall asleep.
I think this must be the look of care – how we become unhurried with each other. How there is enough time to take a nap on a Sunday afternoon in October, despite my protest that long distance makes every moment of closeness to him seem impossibly short (so why would I sleep it away). How it is his voice that tells me, tickling my ear, that I am, in fact, tired, and I do, in fact, need to sleep. And it is his hand that drifts across my ankles in the gesture of care. Reminding me of his presence, reminding me that there is enough time in the long journey together.
I don’t know how to describe it, or why I would try to fill words with the unutterably beautiful feeling of falling asleep next to him on a Sunday afternoon late in the day when the sun is dripping gold across the tops of the trees. Perhaps all I wanted this to say was that the look of care, the way care moves, is not what I expected before I met him. Before I might have told you that care was bold and grand and sweep-you-off-your-feet, that it was a wild trumpeting kind of thing, that everyone saw and noticed and gaped at. And I do run towards him and kiss him in the airport and we do laugh and cry and hug each other –
and then on a Sunday two days later he astounds me by sitting on the porch with me and reading while I take a nap. He astounds me with the gentleness of care, with the simplicity of it, with the way that love moves, unhurried, from one to another and back again.
Care is quiet and full and this morning, I close my eyes and miss him and remember the slow Sunday afternoon. How this must have been what I was longing for: such astonishing every day love.