May 23

from this day forward

To our Beloved Families!
               How do I ever, ever convey what your love has meant to us, to Don, over the course of the last couple years. I can only share a glimpse into my heart, a portion of the promises and plans we made, and my undying gratitude for the love and community that you surrounded us with.
             We met when Don came to a class at church that I was facilitating. I truly believe that even on that day we knew.Your joy in sharing our joy was hard for Don to really understand at times. Don seemed to not realize that he was the person that everyone adored, he would watch me from a quiet place and tell me how everyone had reacted when I had said this or that, never really realizing that you were all, also watching him, coming to me to tell me how much he loved me.
This is the smile

This is the smile that made everything come true.

My Darling,
My Brave Knight,
My Heart of Heart’s,
You taught me this and more.
When you thought that I was leading, I followed. When you thought that I was speaking, I listened. When you thought that didn’t see, I remember every scene. You have left me to move on yet again. You know now that you have always been a Beloved Child of God. A Perfect Creation from the One who cannot make mistakes. You know now that the love that we shared, the love that surpassed all obstacles, the love that we had never known existed, never known the possibility of, was truly God’s gift to us. 
               The gift of a love so precious that every day was filled with passion, every day was to be lived fully, and fully loved. You can see the love that is now surrounding me, your wife, your Sunshine, your redhead, you can feel the love that almost overwhelms me with each new text, instant message, e-mail, phone call, note, visit or card. The hugs that envelop me when I walk into a space and greet the people that have loved you, have loved us and whom you adored. 
                  Each day as we spoke of our future, what was next, where to spend the summer, who to visit next January,  what classes to take, what lectures to go to, what musicians to see, which performances to go to, and which Churches to visit and which sermons to hear. We would walk across the campus to Seminary Hall to visit, to Worship, to learn, to be loved and to love, to LIVE LIFE ABUNDANT. The meals with the Students in Brother’s College, The Caspersen School, The Theological School, meals that would sometimes last for hours after the food had been eaten have sustained us and nourished us in ways I cannot express. 
              Today I awoke for the first time without you. Every day you were faithful to your vow and you kissed me goodnight and every morning, before this morning I also kept my vow to kiss you good morning. You told me that I was your sunshine, all along, every morning, it has been the light of YOUR love that awoke my heart, the light in YOUR eyes that helped me see the way. 
              We never said that our love was until we parted in death, our vow,  we choose instead was from that day forward. I have to continue walking somehow without you by my side from THIS day forward, but I will always, always, have you inside. 
         OUR VOWS: I make my vow, that with the love of Christ, I will support and care for you, I promise to love, cherish and be faithful to you. I will serve you with tenderness and respect; I will encourage you to develop the gifts that God has given you. I promise to be your partner in life, love and service. I promise to join with you in all that is to come, to give and to receive, to speak and to listen, to inspire and to respond, and I Christine promise you Donald, (and I Donald promise you Christine)that I will always be there to kiss you Good Morning (Goodnight) and that in all our life together I will be your steadfast friend and supporter, from this day forward.
              “Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at one time or another, remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives — remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.”

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  1. Don and Christine’s wedding was the best planned, most simple, most profound, best in class, in content, in simple LOVE. That Don and Christine were united in Christ through marriage spoke volumes, even as they walked toward each other at the altar.
    In subsequent meetings with Christine and Don together, and with Don or Christine alone, their love for one another was a shining example of true caring. Peace and love was their aura,

  2. Christine, you are such a gifted writer! I want to suggest and prophesize that you will take all of these beautifical writings and make a “theology of love” book, to leave for future generations and all of God’s children to have words to speak about loving and being in relationship with God and one another. Your talent will help you get through this loss, let the Spirit speak through you my friend and wordsmith! God has blessed you, and I thank the Creator for you! Continue to write, preach and love; it will keep Don’s legacy and love for you alive!
    Your Brother in Christ, Micah

    • cstanford on May 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm
    • Reply

    I am in shock because Don, Christine, and I were just together at the First Friends dinner on May 2. Don’s quiet presence, thoughtful comments, warm smile, and that goodbye that I could never have suspected to be the last one. God is holding him in his arms now and God holds all of us. May we remember to enjoy each day that God gives to us in love and peace. We love because he first loved us.

    • Nadine Ilunga on May 24, 2014 at 10:31 pm
    • Reply

    My husband and myself cannot express or have enough words to say how much we are sad and grieving for the life of Donald that was taken away so soon. We feel your pain.
    I still remember the times when Donald gave us rides to different places. For instance, five days before Donald left us; he gave us a ride to Social Security Office. On our way, he made my husband and I smile and brought laughter in our lives. These are some kind of things that we will remember him. And while it’s going to be very difficult to think of this world without him, it is a happy thought knowing that wherever he is, he is only spreading happiness.
    We love you Donald. May your soul rest in peace!

    • Dianne Mosher on May 26, 2014 at 7:49 pm
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    All I can say is that I love you like a sister and my thoughts and prayers are with you. I wish I could pack a bag and drive to New Jersey tonight!

    • karen on June 6, 2014 at 6:05 pm
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    My condolences to you Don was just a sweetheart, very quiet but a heart of gold.I worked at Albany Medical with him and it was the most unpleasant job of my life, Don made it more pallable he would stop by my office on the way to his always say Hello, warn me of the unpleasantries upfront make me smile ask about my kids . I came across a card he gave me one day that said hang in there. He was a very special , bright, thoughtful man. I am glad you made him happy, he deserved that and Im sad to see he passed Im glad he was able to enjoy his well deserved retirement . May he rest in peace Karen Yetto-Rossman

    1. Thank you Karen so very very much!

    • miran541 on December 30, 2014 at 8:25 am
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    I am touched by your amazing gift of expression, and feel privileged again to have known Don and shared a little of your lives with you. It takes courage to grieve as publicly as you have done. I am honored to be sharing this journey with you.

    • Frank M. D'Ambrosio on December 30, 2014 at 12:37 pm
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    This has to be the most beautiful, poignant, and personal blog I have read from you to date. If I may say so, this blog reflected the feelings Evalyn and I shared from our beginning in October, 1965. She loved me until the moment she died (perhaps she still does); I most definitely still love her. My only point is that I connect on the deepest possible level to the feelings you have expressed. Thank you for this beautiful reflection of a dream come true when few people thought it was not possible for such love to cross generational lines.

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