Last night I had dinner for one. I picked the serviettes you chose for Christmas. Two red hearts on a bunch of white-grey stones. There is a saying in Afrikaans that you eat a bag of salt together to get to know each other really well. We got a bunch of stones to chew in our 35 years with chronic depression. What grace that we never threw those stones at each other in frustration, bitterness or anger! It was what it was. We designed ways to place our broken hearts next to each other time after time. On the stones. A sacrifice of love and commitment. Unwavering support and loyalty. God asked me once: Would you stay if nothing ever changed? My answer was yes. On the 25th of June we would have been married 37 years.
Life is to be celebrated. I would often buy a bottle of champagne and we would raise our glasses in a toast and say: La Vita – to life! It was essential to celebrate that you were still alive. I love colourful plates. You preferred white ones – it displayed the food better, you said. Tonight I will dish up my food on your white plate. Only vegetables. Grief is meaty enough to chew on. I will use the rainbow-coloured cutlery set that our girls gave me last year as a gift. Opening the champagne was a special ritual. You would pull the red thread and remove the top wrapping. Then you would slowly wiggle the cork, never muffling the sound. You knew how much I loved the pop of the cork. We would do a little celebratory yell as you shot the cork somewhere onto the ceiling.
Tonight I shot the cork extra loud and shouted to celebrate that your life is now an eternity in God’s presence. I lit a candle for our many memories. So many deep conversations about the pain of disconnect – the wall depression built between us. The moments of laughter that gave us a window to see each other. I look at the red roses. I don’t like ‘funeral’ flowers. As I ate in silence, a Scripture became a voice in my mind: Ps 23:5 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over.”
Thirty-five years of depression were meant to destroy our love and respect for each other. Self-death was always a threat wanting to steal your life. It will not steal your testimony. The salvation that Jesus your Saviour bought for you on the cross cannot be nullified by suicide. To the murderer who acknowledged Him on the cross next to Him, Jesus said: Today you will be with me in paradise. How much more is he saying that to you, Andre. Christ, Who is the lover of your gentle soul.
La Vita my Beloved: To life eternal with God.