I Am His Rib

He stood on his feet all day, turned babies over this way and that. Placing the cold metal disk of his stethoscope on their little chests, my man listened to life beating new. His day filled with caring for little ones, he’d been hugged, or shunned, and almost unquestioningly spit-up on. And there were boogers, lots of boogers.

After a long day, he walks in the door, dinner on the stove and reaches to hug me. My arms fold up crisscrossing between my breasts as I lean into his heart. His arms easily draw my small frame into his barreled rib-cage.

This folding--- every time I do it--- I feel a twinge of guilt. I know I am creating a barrier between my heart and his. He reaches toward me. I hold back.

I was made from his rib, made to protect his heart.

All these years later, why do I always try to protect my own?

When we started our lives together we began the dance to a rhythm that didn’t come easily to me. I’ve stepped on his toes and he’s stepped on mine more times than we could count.

In high school, I skipped the home economics elective, packed myself for college after graduation, and headed off to make my way in the world.

I fell in love my sophomore year to a senior who found out a few months into our relationship that he was accepted into medical school.

He asked me to marry him promising me that he would always love me and that he would find a way for me to see the world. He wanted me to finish my degree. Marriage would wait for my dream to be fulfilled. He never wanted me to look back with regret. It was a hard reality to wait during years when Skype was only a sci-fi fantasy.

He was a giver and I was needy. He was everything (and more) than I had ever thought I would find in someone to share my life. From the start, he made his vision for our future clear, that if God blessed us with children, he wanted to provide for me, for them, so I could stay at home and raise our children. It is what his mother did and it was what he wanted for his children.

Buried for two years in medical school syllabi, I rearranged my degree plan from pre-law to education. Our long engagement ended when I slipped off my graduation robe one weekend and slipped into my wedding gown the next. That was twenty-seven years ago.

Last fall, his heart fluttered. Literally, he felt as if a moth was caught somewhere between his heart and his esophagus. He had been rolling into exam rooms all morning, pushing door after door open with his shoulder, pulling the top off the black roller ball pen with his teeth, setting one little one after another onto a tall examine table covered in cartoon printed paper.

He was tired but people get tired when they work hard. Twenty years of practice experience had his schedule full by nine in the morning. Two trips to the hospital book-ended long days standing on his feet taking care of babies and children.

The moth that fluttered down in his rib cage only subsided occasionally. It never freed itself. He felt no pain but he did feel unsettled.

The flutter was a silent alert---a signal that could have gone unheeded in the midst of a busy day. He didn’t ignore it. A few days later, I sat in the waiting room outside the cath lab drowning in coffee, my nerves quickened with caffeine.

I watched a clock as time slowed, until a male nurse in blue scrubs knelt in front of me, looked me straight in the eye, “Mrs. Moore…” (I gulped at such formality. It could mean nothing good.) “Dr. Moore has an 80% plus blockage in his left anterior descending artery, commonly known as the LAD. It has to be stinted. Hopefully, the procedure will go smoothly and there will be no complications.” 

The doctors might call that major artery the LAD; the world calls it the widow-maker.

My heart skipped a beat and my heart of hearts broke open, a silent cry, “Oh my God…” In silence, I hurdled my prayer passionately toward the holy altar at heaven's throne---a heart cry like no other I have ever prayed.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.

Life finds me changing diapers again, now for my sweet grand-girls. My last baby is stepping out on the branch of his senior year in high school, a blink away from spreading his wings. I don't know that I have ever been very successful when it comes to home economics. I have kept some kind of chaos held together in a home over the years. I never learned to bake bread or sew a quilt. The food network taught me to cook. My passport is full of stamps.

I haven’t lived the life I planned. I have lived the one I would have never let myself dream. Somehow in God's grace, dreams I didn't know I had came true. 

A couple of days ago, I heard the back door open and shut. He met me in the kitchen. I was drying my hands on a dishtowel. As he turned to me, I tossed it onto the granite counter. He opened his arms for a hug and I started to fold up. But I caught myself. Wrapping my arms around him, I pull his aroma deep into my lungs. I listened for his heartbeat.

I am his rib. I protect his heart---- and in holy mystery he completes me.

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”  (Gen. 2:23)


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