How a Hand Can Help Us Endure Anything
We celebrated our anniversary this weekend. 23 years! I had an itch to see a specific photo from that day of a specific friend. The old photo album took my thoughts on a wild ride through the 90's. Why did we wear such baggy pants?! That specific photo was not to be found but the trip was not wasted. A different photo, taken during our rehearsal, took me on a different ride.
The photo is small, making me look smaller, younger than my (almost) 21 years at the time. My dad is holding my right arm, looking comfortable which I know he was not. To my left is a small boy, my Train Bearer, looking timid and nervous, which I know he fully was. In the center is me. My eyes are not looking at my dad, nor are my eyes looking ahead to find my groom. They are looking down, to the left, where my sweet little friend is standing looking up at me. And I know exactly what that (almost) 21 year old girl is thinking: help him.
Jordan was a sick little two year old when I met him. His parents asked me to regularly babysit him overnight when his epilepsy would cause him to throw up several times while he slept. They needed rest from these nightly interruptions. I did my best and along the way, Jordan and I grew our own sweet relationship.
He had difficulty saying my name, like all the little tykes I watched over the years. They struggled with the "N" sound that comes before the "Cole" sound, the latter being easier to pronounce so most of them landed on some version of "Cole" when they called for me. But unlike the other children I babysat, Jordan created a nickname that started with N. He called me "Neenee."
He adored me, and I him. I know he didn't really want to walk down the aisle of a packed church, carrying the train of my wedding dress. But he loved me and wanted to do whatever would make me happy. Even this.
As we set ourselves in positions at the rehearsal, I saw him standing by my side, listening to the instructions from our Wedding Coordinator. He would walk behind me. Last in the procession. Alone.
This picture is the moment when I realized what I had done. I had asked too much of him. The boy who could play Thomas Trains for hours and loved nothing more than for me to read a book to him was not the kind of boy who strolls down an aisle boldly. Neither was he the kind of boy who takes a wedding job as an opportunity to make a crowd laugh by tripping the flower girl or sticking his finger up his nose during photos. He was not your typical Train Bearer. I knew it. I saw his discomfort woven into his love and in that moment my wedding and all the "perfect" details didn't matter. He was sad and so nothing in my world could be perfect. Without saying a word, I reached out my hand and he placed his in it. He smiled. Relaxed. We went on.
I walked down the aisle on my wedding day with one hand wrapped around my father's arm and one hand holding Jordan's. It was perfect.
I held my son's hand yesterday while a nurse administered a vaccination shot. It didn't change a thing about the medicine involved, it only helped him endure the pain. Maybe "only" isn't the right word for that sentence. Maybe a hand within another hand is more help than we give it credit for. Maybe endurance is possible with the support that comes from a hand, attached to a person who knows us and loves us and will stand beside us in our moment of difficulty.
If you are struggling to endure something difficult in your life, please let me send you 12 Verses to Help You Endure.