I noticed him first.
Frail but strong somehow.
Towering over his cane as his kind eyes scanned the room for a seat.
It was as he sat down that I told him, I love your hat.
To which he smiled with a gentle, Thank you.
There was no mistaking what it covered—the frailness, the sunken face, the slowed gait—all testament to a body ravaged by the effects of chemo and cancer.
But. His. Laugh.
The first time it pealed through the waiting room was absolute heaven.
It was also the first time I noticed her.
Giggling with him in a way you might have completely overlooked the gray in her hair or the wrinkles on her face. Chatting about the weather, the things they forgot, the kids, the grandkids, the neighbor down the street. Shuffling back up together when the receptionist called their last name but not before giggling about it because she had certifiably butchered it.
And so I went back to reading my whatever, secretly hoping that when they were done they would find their way back to the seats next to mine.
And they did.
But this time I said something to her.
I can’t remember what it was. I can’t remember why I said it. I can only remember the moment we recognized one another.
It followed the question, How old are your babies? To which I went down the line with a 10, 8, 6 and 2… That’s when he giggled with a raspy, Whew.
And with a playful tap she talked over him, answering in kind, Two girls. Two boys. But one of my girls died when she was five-years old. I could barely breathe out an I’m-so-sorry before she continued, But girl, I have hope. I have hope and joy and the promise that I will see her again.
And then, with tears in my eyes, I said the words that would change everything…
I have hope too.
We poured out our hard. We poured out our love for Jesus. We poured out our wish for community in this sometimes whackadoo world.
A world that might only notice our differences.
Our age. Our skin color. Our stories.
But something bigger took it’s place…
Our Jesus was the same.
His love. His grace. His comfort. His unabashed faithfulness in the middle of hard things.
And y’all, even when it may seem like the world is falling down around us, this is where our hope belongs.
No matter the hard. No matter the loss. No matter the madness.
We have hope.
A hope so beautiful that it can take strangers and turn them into friends if only for a moment. A hope so bonding that when the time comes to say goodbye, you hug each other tightly as if to say…
I can’t wait to see you again.