We met in the summer of 2011. I remember the first day I noticed him in the back of the sanctuary. He looked so lost and alone, I smiled and said hi and that was all. I asked the Pastor who he was and the Pastor said “Oh that is Don, he has been around forever.” I knew that couldn’t be true because I would have noticed for sure but I didn’t say anything. Within a few weeks I was starting a class on World Religions with a group of adults on Sundays after church. I invited him hoping he would come. He came to that first class and sat directly to my right, he told me he wanted to sit next to the teacher because he had just had surgery on his eye and he wanted to see better. When I explained that there would be a video shown at the other end of the room he never moved. I think we both knew something then.
Before long I had to give up teaching that class because of my Mother’s declining health. Don came to her funeral but he never spoke to me that day or even signed the book to let me know he was there. The next summer he came to hear me preach at another church in town when I filled in for their pastor who was on vacation and the following week he came to our own church to hear me preach while our own pastor was away. Before I knew it I had left for school in New Jersey, three hours away, and was caught up in learning a new way of life and surviving on campus with people half my age. I came home to visit for the first time in late September and I remember that after church when everyone was coming around me and hugging me there he was in his same spot in the rear of the sanctuary waiting with his arms outstretched to give me a big welcome home hug. I was so taken aback , I knew that he wasn’t one to be overly affectionate and I had never seen him hug anyone but there he was hugging me and the electricity in his touch still gives me chills today.
Soon after that I was making excuses to come home to do things with him. We went to a concert in an old children’s theatre and another at the community college where both times I laid my arm on the armrest and sat there hoping his hand would brush up against mine. Hello and goodbye hugs full of static tension punctuated our outings and it wasn’t long before I knew I had to mention my feelings for him. It wasn’t without risk, I had no idea if he felt the same sparks that I felt, and he was still wearing his wedding ring from when his wife had passed away eighteen months prior, I had no idea if the feelings were mutual. By November I was settling in at school and Don had gone on a retreat for a conference committee that we were both on that I was unable to attend. I asked him to dinner to hear about the retreat and the moment I hung up the phone I knew that I had to tell him of my feelings. We arrived at the restaurant and I asked the waiter to seat us in the back where it was quiet. We sat and talked for almost three hours before I could gather the courage to say anything. I finally opened my mouth and said “I think that I may have some feelings for you.”
The look on his face told me all I ever needed to know. His eyes lit up brighter than a thousand lights on the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center and the smile on his lips was as warm as a Christmas fireside. When we kissed goodnight that night the sparks flew again and before the weekend he told me he loved me and I told him I felt the same way. We never planned to fall in love, we never planned to date each other, we were just friends who realized that we has a passion for each other greater than anything we had either felt before in our lives. By January we were engaged to be married, to begin to live the rest of our lives together. We thought we would have forever, but we lived each day as if we only had that day. We never took a day for granted and we never once took our love for granted. Thanks be to God we lived intentionally for in the end we only had but a short time to dance, but with the time we had we danced every dance.by