The last few weeks we had together, I looked at Ryan and asked him what he wanted to do with his time because we both knew we didn't have much more time together.
He looked at me and said,
"I want to go on dates with you, without the kids."
"Done," I told him.
"Anything else?" I asked, like a drive thru attendant.
"Yes, I want to see Pastor Jeff," he said.
And I made it all happen, according to what he wanted.
I believe we went on six dates in less than two weeks.
Seeing Pastor Jeff was the beginning of one of our last dates on earth, but I would say it ranked as one of the best dates we ever had.
As I survey the last two months of Ryan's life on earth and look at how he had closure for so many people in his life, I believe this last date with Pastor Jeff brought Ryan and I closure to our ending marriage.
We had always wanted an extended vacation away from the kids, and kind of joked that his last time in the hospital gave us that time away, with his Mom watching the kids for days on end, as a "vacation without kids" of sorts.
That seventh, extended date was full of grace and truth, two important pillars in our marriage.
The number of grace.
The number of completion.
Over the summer on one of our in-house "date nights," I asked him where his favorite place in the world was. When he told me, I cried.
Driving up the winding, canyon road in Kauai was punctuated by one of the worst fights we ever had in our marriage. That whole trip was marred by anger and frustration about money and getting our own way.
Two prideful and angry people were in the car that day, on a vacation we couldn't afford but had received from our credit card points, ironically "earned" from all the debt we both had accrued.
We drove, often in silence, or talking about the beauty that surrounded us, trying to calm the storm inside of each of us.
When we got to the top of the mountain, we were covered in fog. Ryan was driving and I was concerned because he couldn't even see five feet in front of the car.
He told me to, "Relax" as he often said to me in our marriage.
That calmed me down.
(Boy, I wish he were here to tell me that, even now!)
As we pulled into the parking lot, I took out the Kauai Revealed guide and discussed what we were supposed to see.
We trudged up the small hill to a place marked as a lookout.
What a disappointment! There was nothing but cold fog surrounding us and I was wearing shorts. I couldn't believe that you could have so much disappointment packed into a Hawaiian vacation, yet there I was, pouty and miffed at our repeated misfortune.
Another couple came and went when they saw what we did. I wanted to follow them.
As I turned to walk towards the car, Ryan grabbed my hand and said,
"Wait for what?" I protested, sarcastically. It was getting colder by the minute and the fog drifted by lazily, as if to taunt me.
I was mad at the money situation we were in, which I was partly to blame for, and I was mad at the weather.
"Let's just stay for a minute to see what happens," he said, patiently.
We stood there, leaning against each other on the railing, talking about nothing for about five minutes.
Other couples came and went, but we stayed there, on the mountain top, wrapped in each other's arms, and actually enjoying ourselves.
Suddenly, the bad weather didn't matter to me anymore.
I remember looking deeply in his eyes and falling in love with him in that moment.
Then, by divine Providence, the fog lifted, revealing the most beautiful look out either of us had ever laid eyes on.
Ryan beamed, but never said the words, "I told you so."
He didn't have to.
We snapped a series of pictures and basked in the glow of the welcoming sun.
We enjoyed watching dragonflies circling our heads and dancing in the air above us.
But just as quickly as the scene changed, the fog returned and our circumstances changed back to how they were.
That was our seventh wedding anniversary trip.
The number of grace.
The number of completion.
I felt the symbolic nature of Ryan's favorite place, a place he went to with just me. It was a time, when it was just the two of us, surrounded by a cloud of distractions, living in a fog, of sorts.
But then, the fog lifted when Ryan got diagnosed with Cancer.
We began to live each day of our marriage and parenthood as intentionally as possible, as though it were our last day together.
We stopped bickering about stupid, little, trivial things.
We put our cell phones down.
We stopped trying to make everyone else happy.
We spent time with the people who God intended for us to be with.
We prayed tremendously and earnestly, for
The last few weeks of Ryan's life were spent the way he wanted them to be spent.
Most of Ryan's last minutes on earth were with his wife,
the wife of his youth,
loving her as Christ loved the church.