After all we'd been through together, I would dedicate Penned Without Ink to my husband, my college sweetheart, the man who protected me, my best friend who would do just about anything for me.
As Barry struggled to recover from a traumatic brain injury back in 2003, his condition progressed from the dark of a coma to gradually becoming more active and more aware of his surroundings. Pretty soon he recognized me and our daughters when we came to visit him in the nursing home. We saw him progress from preschool level activities in therapy to more advanced exercises. He had a habit of getting stuck on a word or phrase but kept marching forward with each new day. As time went on, he called me on the phone from the nurses' station. And one day he wrote me a love note on a scrap of paper, now one of my most prized possessions.
I kept my secret quiet as I wrote each chapter and then the final draft. I word-smithed those few lines over and over. They had to sound just right. They had to express my heart. They had to somehow show him how much I loved and appreciated him.
My kind and gentle husband who loves God and his neighbor . . .
My wonderful friend.
I love you.
But he passed away before the book came in the mail. Before the manuscript was edited or even submitted to the publisher. I never got to tell him.
All I could do was change the verbs to past tense.
The bitter-sweet day Penned Without Ink found its way to my mailbox, I could only imagine what it would have been like had he still been here. Would I have pointed the dedication page out to him or let him find it on his own? Either way, I can see his smile . . . feel his hug as he reached for me. "Good job, hon." he would have said.
Instead, I opened the package alone.
The yawning divide between the living and the dead is so permanent. Does he know? I took my secret to the cemetery and had a good cry. I realize Barry isn't there, but it satisfied something deep inside me. Someday we'll walk the golden streets and I'll tell him my secret. Perhaps he'll smile, reach for me with a hug, and say, "Good job, hon."
And I'll lay my head on his shoulder and whisper, "I couldn't have done it without you, Babe."
Two broken and restored people with a story . . . for the glory of God.
Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story is available on Amazon.com.