I learned something when I got married that I didn't appreciate until a year ago or so. As much as we have our faults and issues, one of the key aspects of marriage is the imparting of the best of the other person unto the other, and vice versa. This is demonstrated in the unions of my friends and family, yet most of all I see it in the, shall I say, intervention of my Aunt Irene into the inhospitable and cantankerous family that represents the Warrens.
My aunt is kind in an old-world kind of way. Being of Germanic descent, she is strong willed and stubborn, but robust in her charity and personal humor. I met her when my family went to Germany, where my uncle was stationed in Stuttgart on a US military base. (I'm certain I met her before then, but I do not remember.) Like a good protestant, she trained my uncle to carry out a weekly bible study and we always ate the best food. Later my aunt and uncle came to the states and took up residence in my grandmother's home.
My tumultuous teenage years were subdued slightly by my trips down the road to the house, while I was staying with my dad on the weekends. She never turned me away, and I took the opportunity to eat her food and play with my cousins and go swimming in the backyard. Occasionally I would bring my anime films over, which would mostly cultivate scorn from my cousins, but at the end of the day, genuinely curious, I would see her watching them. In this way, she was willing to experience something new, which I can say confidently that I rarely observed even from my own parents, if any.
I should say now, before I continue, that my aunt is dying from complications due to bladder cancer.
I took it hard when I heard the news. I contemplated going home from work when I read my uncle's email. But doing so seemed silly in hindsight. It was an outcome that seemed to loom in the recent years, one that I was never willing to accept. What would happen to her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners? I've often read that what set Christians apart from the pagans in the early church was their willingness to break bread with those that seemed to be undesirable. Wounds would heal over a meal, enemies would become friends. Like some silly fantasy epic, where the "church" was considered holy ground and a place for peace, I feel strongly that Irene's food became the adhesive to bind and seal the fractured relationships that plagued the Warrens.
So, while she is still living, I am writing this. My hope is that while people are living they can see how much they mean to others.
But even so, I am comforted with the reality that I will see her again, because she is raised in Christ Jesus. This life we live is just the fleeting wisps of an extinguished candle. Everything after is peace and communion with the body of Christ, where people can finally be free to be human.
So if you can, think of my aunt and how our lives mean something to others. Each of us are billiards, knocking into each other, and our effect rippling beyond the horizon.