I get by with a little help from my friends,
I get high with a little help from my friends…
~ The Beatles
No, no, not that kind of stone.
Wednesday, as I’ve mentioned, we traveled to Arlington to celebrate with some friends. After 30 years, they have sold their house, purchased a condo in Florida where they’ll retire, and rented an apartment in Arlington where they’ll live for at least the next year.
The evening was a celebration of our friends and a celebration of the house.
Gathered for the evening were people who had lived with our friends at various times over the years, people who met their spouses in that house, people who received career counseling, people who worked for the business the couple once ran, people who needed just a place of refuge to hang out. The list could continue.
For our family, it was a bit of a second home. Our son and their daughter are roughly two weeks apart in age. From their early toddler years, my wife and Kathy would trade days of the week taking care of the other child. It gave them both some down time and formed a bond between our son and their daughter that remains strong today.
Part of the evening was a sharing of life events in the house. We were each asked to bring a stone of remembrance. Something that would remain in the garden of the house as a testament to what happened there.
For my wife and I, our most vivid memory was Christmas of 1990. Just a few days prior to Christmas, I had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. I saw the doctor on a Thursday. He told me to come back the following day and to bring my wife. That was when he told me the chance was better than 90% that the cancer was malignant.
The doctor wanted to schedule surgery for Monday, but the busy operating room at George Washington Hospital in DC wasn’t available until Wednesday.
That actually worked out better for us because on Monday, my stepfather, and my father-in-law had prostate surgery and my wife’s aunt had a mastectomy. Only my stepfather’s was not malignant.
My wife rushed to North Carolina to be with her dad for his surgery on Monday and then rushed home for mine on Wednesday. In the meantime, I hurriedly wrapped up details from a conference I’d just concluded, not knowning how long I would be out of the office. And I dashed out to buy a Christmas tree. Our plans had been to spend Christmas with family in North Carolina and Virginia. But, that changed.
The surgeries all happened and the outcomes are all stories to be told another time. I was fortunate that my cancer was caught early. I endured a minimum amount of radiation treatment. I am today, nearly 23 years cancer free.
But, back to our friend’s house and Christmas day. We had nothing planned and the three of us didn’t want to be alone for Christmas day, so the invitation was welcomed.
That evening we went to our other friend’s house for a carol sing. The house was full, the people were happy. I was still recovering from surgery so I sat and watched. And enjoyed.
I’m pretty sure I was prayed for that evening. But what I remember most is being surrounded by people who cared. People who loved us, and still love us.
Over the next few weeks, I was in and out of doctor’s appointments and treatments. My wife joined me for many of them, and when she did, our son had a home to go to. My memories of that time are vague, but I don’t recall a time that we ever had to worry about where he was going to go while I was at a doctor’s appointment.
Wednesday night, my wife shared that story with our stone of remembrance.
We won’t get to go back to that house again. But that’s not what is important. It’s the people. It’s the memories. It’s the legacy.
But our stone, along with many others, will be there as a reminder of what God did there.
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.