Elizabeth glanced at the clock. He was late home again. No doubt he would say he had been working late. Things had not been easy since Jason's death, each of them cocooned in their own private grief. Though they had suffered the shock together, slowly the walls had grown; walls of unspoken pain and guilt.
Robert took a detour past the hospital. Jenny would be coming off duty in 10 minutes. She understood. She had been on duty when Jason was rushed in wet and limp.
Robert blamed himself for leaving that box in the yard; a box Jason used to climb the swimming pool fence. Elizabeth urged him to forgive himself, but she did not understand his torment.
Jenny's soft brown eyes showed that she knew. When he wept she held him close; her slow smile somehow made everything right. He felt more alive with her than he had in months. The drive past the hospital and the cups of coffee at the diner became the highlight of his day.
He was apologetic as he came home, avoiding her gaze as he spoke, "Sorry I'm late again, darling. I think there must have been an accident on the road. The traffic was unbelievable."
"Unbelievable alright," thought Elizabeth, but she managed a bright smile and gave him a big kiss.
"Well, I'm glad you're home. Supper is waiting. I've cooked your favourite."
"Lamb chops? You are a darling! You spoil me and I don't deserve it."
The conversation was loving, but the underlying tension was palpable.
Week after week, as the same scenario played out, Elizabeth was praying.
"Lord, he is hurting and I sense I am losing him. Guard my heart. I don't know how much longer I can go on. How do I respond to these lame excuses? I desperately need you to intervene."
On the anniversary of Jason's death Elizabeth heard the words she half welcomed, half dreaded. "Lizzy, we have to talk. There is something you need to know."
"Lord, does it have to be now? Just when I have discovered I am pregnant? Should I tell him? No. Not now. He must be free to make his choice."
He sat at the table and she sat opposite. "Lord, keep me calm," she breathed. "Give me the courage to face whatever is coming."
He steeled himself and looked directly at her.
"Liz, honey, things have been difficult between us since Jason died."
She nodded and he continued. "I want to tell you that I have been looking for some kind of comfort elsewhere, and found it."
"This is it, Lord. Give me strength." She nodded. "I suspected as much.”
"But last week on the way to work I heard a pastor on the radio. He spoke about finishing well. He said God is not interested in how we start, He wants to know how we will finish. Our behaviour along the way should be governed by a determination to finish well. I have been studying the Scriptures and it's true. The Bible is full of exhortations to trust God in difficult times, to persevere in every situation. Why, in the book of Revelation Jesus tells EVERY church to overcome to the end. I know that applies to our marriage too. The world tells me it is about MY happiness and what makes ME feel good; but the Bible says my reward comes from faithfulness and trust. From now on it's you alone. I want to make this work. Please forgive my stupidity."
He pulled two dolls from his pocket, a boy and a girl, and laid them on the table. Taking out a blue ribbon he passed it around them both. As he tied them together he recited his vows, "I take thee, Elizabeth ............... to have and to hold till death us do part."
He handed her a pink ribbon. "I am giving you the opportunity to do the same."
Sobbing she exclaimed, "Oh yes, Robert." And tied the dolls once more. "Till death us do part."
He took a third ribbon gold, this time and prayed as he tied, "Lord, You have tied us together as one. Those whom God has joined, let no man -- or woman--put asunder."
Thirty years later, Jason looked up at Robert, "Grandpa, what are those dolls on the mantelpiece all tied together for?"
"That's your grandma and me, my boy, tied together by our love and held there by God's faithfulness."
Jason smiled. "Cool!"
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