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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Courageous Risk

"You are never too old to set another goal
or dream another dream."
~ C. S. Lewis ~
Dave watched as I carried household goods from one side of the street to the other. Probably, I was an interesting diversion for him; now in his eleventh month of mourning. Cathy, his wife, had died of cancer and those last six months were dreadful, horrible, awful, almost too much to bear for Cathy and for Dave as he watched her slowly slip from the land of the living to the land of shadows to the other side. Theirs was a love born of youth when they’d met in college and neither had dated many, if any, people and certainly none very seriously.

Five years prior to Cathy’s death she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. Once diagnosed, she and Dave fought it together; side by side they would sit in various doctors’ offices or the hospital, listening to the latest news, considering their options, making decisions, being brave soldiers always together. From my, now distant, vantage point and experience, it’s the “being brave soldiers always together” that made any of it bearable. For either of them. For either of us.

In October 1987, Cathy walked onto the plane, destination an Arizona business trip. A week later, she was wheeled off the plane, never to walk again without assistance. The cancer metastasized and the fight renewed with a vengeance, and, in February March she died but Dave’s descent into hell had already begun. He lost himself in the quiet darkness of their home, in the bottom of limitless cans of beer and endless cartons of cigarettes. Night after night after night he would drink, smoke and wait for his end, pray for his end. It didn’t come; at least, not then.

I was living across the street in a small two room apartment but, in true urban fashion, had never met any of my neighbors. One day, just to be friendly, I took notes around the small community and invited all to my apartment for tea. Living two doors down from Dave, two little old ladies showed up, blue hair and white gloves, to sit and chat while we drank tea and ate homemade cookies. They told me Miss Campbell had passed away and her little cottage, the one between them and Dave, was for sale. They put me in touch with Mr. Campbell, the brother, and in a few weeks, I was the proud owner…me and the bank…of that little cottage. It was a cozy cottage, one thousand square feet, room enough and then some, for me and the cat.

From his front window, Dave watched as, through the February snowstorm, I trudged household goods from one door stoop to the other. On one trip, he ventured onto his front porch and called to me, “Would you like some help?”

Puhlez! Free help?! I like to think I was charming as I, through frozen blue lips, called back, “Yes, and thank you!” In a minute, he, wearing a blue down parka, met me at my little apartment. I sized him up and gave him a small lamp to carry; surely he could manage a small lamp…please God! He did and made about three more trips before I took pity on him. “Would you like a cup of coffee?” From the tobacco smell, he probably needed a cig break as well. smile He did and he did so we sat and chatted while he drank a cup of black coffee and took hard drags on his cigarette. His accent told me he was from West Virginia while he admitted he thought I was stealing from Miss Campbell. That floored me! I asked for clarification and he said, “Well, I could see you carrying stuff and, knowing Miss Campbell had died, I thought, perhaps you were robbing the place.”

Choking back laughter I said, “But if I were stealing, wouldn’t I be carrying things OUT of her house and not INTO her house?” The look on his face was priceless! “Oh yeah”, he admitted. “That’s right.”

Our courtship began as friendship. We both needed the safety net of someone who didn’t place demands, who didn’t want anything other than to share a meal or a cup of coffee. I carried the scars of so many disappointments; Dave carried the scars of losing his best friend and love of his youth. So, having nothing much to lose, we were totally honest with each other and that honesty carried us through our life together.

That first week, Dave invited me for a meal and took me to a neighborhood restaurant. He said, “Order anything you want” and I looked at him like, “is there an option?” Many years later we would, often, talk about that first meal; I ordered steak, salad and potato and then, so did Dave. It pleased him I didn’t order simply a salad and use some “female excuse”, as he put it, to say, “Oh, I’m not really that hungry. I’ll just have a salad.” I told him, “I should have been military. I eat when it’s there and I sleep when I can and, by the way, don’t expect sexual favors for this meal.”  He had a hearty laugh and nodded his head, affirming what he’d heard; it was a while before I found out, he’d been a Captain in the Army.

As time went by, we introduced each other to family and friends. One person, when I introduced the two of them, told me later, “What on earth do you see in him? He smokes and he drinks and he looks terrible.”

Interesting question but it told me more about the one asking the question. What I saw in Dave was a man who, eleven months later, was still in deep mourning. A man who loved more faithfully than I’d ever know possible. A man who was willing to die but committed to living because his life wasn’t his own. Even then, he would say, “if there is a God, I leave God’s business to Him; it’s enough I take care of my own.”

Therein is the crux of the matter. If Dave loved that deeply, that faithfully, that truly the wife of his youth, I was willing to wait for whatever he had left when he came out the other side.

Eventually, I taught Dave how to love again and he taught me how to trust again. We made a formidable team and people always thought of “Dave and Sandra”; almost never “Dave” or “Sandra”; that was right and telling.

Now, from the vantage point of almost six decades, I listen to young wives and husbands and wish I could tell them, “You can’t possibly know what you don’t know but know this…most of what you’re talking about, fighting about, arguing about simply Does Not Matter. Better a loaf of bread made with love than a meal eaten in anger. Better a glass of ice tea shared on the porch in companionable silence than a bottle of champagne sipped through clenched lips and bitter words. Better memories of love than memories of strife. Look beyond the obvious, look beyond the physical and look with your heart. Better yet, look with God’s heart. Be the man, or woman, after God’s own heart and it…life…will fall into place. Yes, you’ll have tests, trials and tribulations but being brave soldiers together will, not only make life bearable, it will make life wonderful. Trust your eyes but listen to your heart; your heart will guide you in a courageous risk.

Blessings ~ God's own courage ~ Jack Lewis ~ Cathy ~ trust ~ love ~ loyalty ~ Dave ~ 


  1. Please don't think I'm simply being patronizing when I say that was one of the most beautiful love stories I've ever heard. I mean that. It is a true story of love from your heart and I can only imagine what it feels like to write it. Do you know how many women envy that kind of love?
    And let me also say(as I near 6 decades too)that I am trying very hard to take it to heart and apply it. Thanks Sandra.

  2. Sandra, I loved reading your story... oh to find the words. How about tears.

    Many will never know that kind of love, truly a gift.

    ...and to think you two landed on a farm!...

  3. What a touching story, Sandra.
    You loved (and love!) Dave so very well.

  4. You truly melted my heart with your love of one another in this write, Sandra. Wise words from a precious lady ... for the love of her heart & soul mate husband.

    I know that Dave is whispering sweets to you Sandra ... bless his soul, bless your beautiful heart.

    Have a great eve ~
    TTFN ~
    Hugs & love sweet friend ~

  5. Sandra,
    Thank you for sharing your incredible love story. It is a rare treasure.

    May God give you joy and comfort and the memory of beautiful days together.

  6. What a love-story! Wonderful, great and amazing! Dear Thistle, thats a brave and wonderful life and love going over borders.

  7. Thank you so much for telling your story Sandra, though it was probably sad for you to do so.
    I found it so very moving and it touched my heart deeply. Admittedly I don't always find it very easy to do as you suggest, in my own life! :) ♥

  8. I, too, enjoyed reading this part of your love story...and the profound wisdom in the final paragraph should be required reading for new couples (and old couples as well)...

  9. Very nicely written and what a sweet love story. I always wondered how you met. I am so glad you shared. It is lovely.

  10. A beautiful recollection of true love. Thank you for sharing, dear Sandra.

  11. Your story is so beautiful. Those are truly well-lived years . . . worth so much more than all the 'success' people chase after now. Couldn't get through the post without sobbing mind you. Facing my own choice to risk: whether or not to let my cheating husband back into my life. I'm all for working through the hard stuff- but not if it's only me doing it all! Like you said, brave soldiers together . . .

  12. I love a good story and when it is filled with authentic, truth, hope, promise, love . . . . I like it even more. Beautiful . . .

  13. I love your writing Sandra, because it comes from experience and from the heart. I so agree with you. Marriage, or relationships, take work and patience. Don't sweat the small stuff. xoxo

  14. You've made me cry again! But they are good tears. Your writing is so honest, and sincere. That is why it moves me so.
    Also, I love your story. MR and I started out in a similar way...ok, I waited for him to come home for lunch to borrow a shovel, lol. I was wearing camo pants (prefered for gardening becuase they don't show the dirt and have lots of pockets to hold hand tools, seeds, etc.) and a sweat shirt with holes (ventilated warmth, haha). I guess he got that I was looking for a shovel, not a man.
    I see you moving through your sorrow to a new place. It's good to see. Blessings and hugs

  15. Thank you for sharing this gave him his life back, who knows what would have happened if you had not been there at the right time. That is funny about you robbing the house!

  16. What an amazing read this post was. It certainly has the makings of a book. I loved learning of your early relationship days.

  17. Your title grabbed me - maybe I felt I needed a little courage or something today. Your post moved me, and also made me smile. Your ability to look into the heart was good to remind me to do the same with others instead of judging them for the outward appearances. I loved the line "being brave soldiers together will, not only make life bearable, it will make life wonderful."

  18. It was so good to read how you met Dave ...:o)! Thank you for your post!!!

  19. i am so glad you came by my blog A Creative Harbor ~ this is a wonderful story and a wonderful life and you are so enlightened and wise ~ thanks for sharing ~ many hugs and love to you ~ namaste, ^_^

  20. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. My words sound lame, but I don't know any other way of describing it. It is a beautiful story. And your last paragraph is so true and meaningful. Thank you, Sandra.

  21. yours is a great love story, inspiring
    and convicting at the same time. he
    was blessed to find you, and i pray
    that you will have another blessing,
    too . . . in time.

  22. Sometimes I am simply left with a true appreciation for all that is written in a post, but have nothing to offer in way of comment that can add to the beauty and truth of the writing.So I say , amen Sister, and thank-you for this telling of your life with your true love, and his love for his first love, and for you.

  23. Well, I'm wiping my eyes and trying to type, so there may be a few mistakes, but...
    Sandra, this is not only the most beautiful tribute to your life with Dave, but without a doubt a beautiful tribute to love and marriage in general.
    I only wish the whole world could read this..

  24. That's a beautiful story Sandra and lovingly told. Like you I find it so very hard to come to terms with things ending. When you love so much and so deeply, it just seems impossible that it could ever end.
    Thank you for sharing that with us and thank you for coming across to Wordpress to visit me. You are a most welcome visitor. Please come again and I'll make you a cup of your favourite coffee.

  25. Hugs to you,
    - Cathy

  26. What a magnificent post. Sandra, thank you for sharing this. There is wisdom here for us all.

  27. Hi Sandra!
    I am SO VERY BLESSED to read your love story. I walk away today wanting to give more grace, and love my dear husband even more. I want us to be good soldiers together.
    May God bless you both!
    "It's all about the love."- that's what a 90something year old womand told me in the nursing home.

  28. Debbie, I would never think such a thing of you. It's it sad that people don't have that kind of love? I think it comes down to trust; it's so hard to trust, isn't it? It's always been hard for me to trust; Dave changed that. At least for us; not sure what the future will bring. It took Dave and I a while but we built something good; something lasting; something worthwhile.

    HI Karen - love takes trust and trust is in short supply. Dave changed that for me; who knows what the future will bring? We came here because it was where Dave's kith and kin was from and I always, always wanted to live on a farm.

    Dear Pom - writing it was easy, all I had to do was slice open my heart and bleed out...wry smile.

    Hi Marydon - thank you so much; your kindness has touched my heart.

    Hi Dawn - thank you for your blessing, may He do as you say.

    Hello Dori - Dave and I loved truly and well although we had some tough times too. We always thought of US more than we thought of "me".

    Pam, I told someone else, telling the story was easy...all I had to do was slice open my heart and bleed out. Dave was once in a lifetime, we were a tight team.

    Hi Karen - it was wisdom hard gained -wry smile-; thank you for your kind comment.

    Farm Girl, until the end, we laughed at our beginning.

    Lady Farmer, oh we had our share of difficulties, even arguments and disagreements. but. the need for US was stronger than the need for me...for either of us, Raeann. love is a choice.

    Oh Jenniffer - it's a hard place to be and no one can tell you what you should do. Pray and trust God.

    Lynne, we had our share of angst as well.

    Nancy - like I told you earlier, writing that post was easy, I only had to slice open my heart and bleed out.

    Hi Debbie - yes, I am moving forward, Debbie, even when I don't recognize it myself! God is gracious and good toward me; He's got me by the hand, but I still miss Dave -wry smile-.

    Hi Ginny - he always said I gave him his life back; I always said God used me to help Dave. Then, God used Dave to help me; it was a good marriage and a great life.

    Oh Lisa, you're too kind!

    Esther Joy - All we have to do is ask God; He wants what's best for His children so asking for courage is a good thing, imho .

    you're welcome Timi; it made for a great story...Dave thinking I was robbing his neighbor!

    dear ArtMuseDog - thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm and for your kind comments; you're always welcome here.

    Linda, you're welcome and thanks for your kind comment. Life with Dave was wonderful, sure hope it's half as good with him gone. God is able, God is able!

    Hi Lea - thank you for visiting, you and your family are thought of often and tucked into prayer. Especially, your husband and his mother while they are walking through the grieving process.
    Thank you for your prayer...if God wills it, I'm willing to time -smile-.

    Hi Paula, no mistakes so you're okay there -smile-. Dave and I had a good marriage and a great life, still have moments when his death catches me by surprise.

    thanks for visiting, Star. as a wise man said, centuries ago, change is the only constant.

    Kathy, Dave and I built something good, something worthwhile; OH how he is missed!

  29. Hi Paula, no mistakes so you're okay there -smile-. Dave and I had a good marriage and a great life, still have moments when his death catches me by surprise.

    Cat, hugs to you too!

    Hi Leigh, thank you for visiting and for your kind comment. I wish wisdom wasn't so hard won -smile-.

  30. This is the second blog I've stumbled on in the last couple of days where raw emotion, open hearts and pure honesty are flowing.

    Your love story is beautiful, and I an so grateful that I read it.


  31. Oh my goodness,that was absolutely beautiful. Change the names and this could be my husband and me....we truly are brave soldiers who have stuck together the battles of life and cntinue to do so. Thank you so much for putting words to our story!

  32. Hello Tuesday, many thanks for visiting and for your kind comment. It's been hard won; I told someone else all I had to do was slice open my heart and bleed out. Life has been "interesting" since Dave died in November. I'd much rather have stayed ignorant. -wry smile-

    Hello Tracy, love is an old, old story and there's nothing new under the sun. The huge difference is, Dave, my husband, died in November; I wish for you and yours many more years of happiness because you both choose to believe and live in the knowledge that US is stronger than me.

  33. Hi Sandra,
    You sent me the link to this post in an e.mail some time ago. I was waiting to read it when I could enjoy it slowly and read it a couple of times. That was this morning.

    I love this story so much. I would have enjoyed being in a cottage next to you and Dave.



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