I didn’t know in that moment, or many to follow, my hero was in the room. I looked for him in the words of the song I sang beside Papa’s hospital bed, “Mighty to save,” tears coating the neck of my guitar and sobs like distant thunder in my chest. And days later, I looked for him in a different room, in the basement of the hospital, watching Papa’s body in violent struggle to let go, until my whole soul, it seemed, was drained of sound and breath, and all was finally quiet.
I looked for him in Guatemala, where I stayed with my friend for one month, Papa freshly gone. Alone in her apartment with its high ceilings and cement floors I screamed bloody rage, “Where are you now!” I heard no reply, only reverberations of my voice, and sank to the floor against the wall.
I looked for him in love, in the arms of a friend who grew to be more. And for one sweet breath of a season, I thought I found him there. But the love collapsed from the weight of all it had taken on, and with it, I found myself falling again into grief.
The lights went out again and my songs mocked me with their unanswered prayers, but this time, he broke my fall. He lit a match and cradled me, all the pieces of me, singing low and deep and strong.
Do not be afraid, sweet one. You thought I died, too, but I never left you. I’m always in the room.
And when I sat in the tiny room at urgent care, four days before my wedding, and heard them say, “Ruptured achilles,” he was there. I felt him this time, rubbing my arms through my soon-to-be husband as I buried my face and sobbed, whispering, “It’s ok, we’ll get through this. I love you.”
He was there, all those nights on the bathroom floor with the door shut, when I feared there would be no end to this pain, that my heart might disintegrate in salty tears and be swept away forever. When he gave me answers, not in words but in presence, and his love was all that filled that space of room and my cavernous heart.
And when I thought we’d lose our home, month after month, and when my stomach growled with hunger and the food barely stretched far enough and I just needed to make it one more day.
He was in the room. He was always in the room.
My hero. My sweet Jesus, mighty to save, even when the saving is through the winding valley, the darkened cave, the rocky floor and sound reverberating off walls, accusations flung from a wounded heart. Even when the notices posted on doors churn fear and the mail turns up only more bills and the cupboards seem bare and the nights long and troubled, my hero grips tight my hand and whispers, “I’ve got you.” He awakens barren days with songs of hope and teaches me to sing them back, in my own voice, until they are mine.
He’s the only One who’s ever stuck it out with me, through it all, feeding love into the bottomless pit of my need.
And with time, through changing landscapes, I’m beginning to see more than an empty room, but him, in all his beautiful but not often desirable disguises.
And he, oh, I need not look further. What a sight for sore eyes, my hero.
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I'm over at Lisa Jo's today for Five-Minute Friday. The prompt is "Hero," and once again, this did not unfold in five minutes. But I'm grateful to share it, all the same.