He loves tenderly

For . . . God . . . So . . . Loves . . .  John 3:16

I am about to repeat a phrase I hated hearing during my childhood. My loving parents would say, “back in my day” to make a point, like back in their day they didn’t listen to hip hop music or back in their day they walked three miles to school up hill both ways or back in their day, kids weren’t allowed to talk back to parents. Sound familiar? If it does, then you’re old enough to remember songs by Elvis Presley.

“Back in my day” I probably didn’t anger my parents too much by my music choices, but I did love Elvis (they didn’t). I loved his soulful, crooning  tunes like Blue Hawaii, Harbor Lights, and my most favorite, Love Me Tender. What a dreamy song for someone in the crazy-about-boys stage.

Now in my over-the-hill years (and picking up speed) I don’t listen to dreamboat music. I selected one of those years ago and he’s not going anywhere, even though his hair is waving “goodbye” :). But we did take a trip, a very special trip to Arizona a few months back for a very special occasion. The “baby” had finally found his bride and a lush outdoor celebration was planned and we were not disappointed. Our son’s smile was continuous, his bride exquisite and even the light rain shower couldn’t dampen the mood.

We were seated at tables that surrounded the dance floor. We ate, chatted with new family and friends and enjoyed watching the children try their moves on the shiny dance floor. Then it was time. In the soft lighting under the canopy of heaven, the bride and groom took their places, arm in arm, on the dance floor, looked deeply into each other’s eyes and swayed gently to the ole tune from my memory bank, Love Me Tender sung in the liquid velvety voice of the lovely, Norah Jones.

Love me tender, love me sweet never let me go.
You have made my life complete and I love you so . . .
and I love you so.

It was not even a thought, but a reaction. The mournful tune opened the floodgates and tears poured down my cheeks as I frantically blotted them before they ruined my makeup. I was over-the-top happy for the marriage of our children, so why the tears?? As hard as it still is to put this subject into words, I’ll try. I fell in love with this song when the future of love and marriage was a hope and a dream born out of youth. Hearing it now after all these years hit me in the gut. So much life had passed. So much pain from losing my son to suicide. And he was not here to see his brother marry the girl of his dreams.

Yes. This is what bittersweet tastes like. This is what it feels like to laugh and cry at the same time.

Marriage is never perfect, but these kids have a shot at it. May they experience their love deepening. May they also know how deeply their heavenly Father loves them. After all, it’s about the love of the past, present and future, is it not? And in heaven, all will be sweet without the bitter. In heaven, our sons will be together again. In heaven, our blended families will part no more. Yes. That’s how much He Loves!

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