Monday, May 14, 2012
The Basketball Game That Changed My Life
It was January 19, 1979. I was a freshman in college. I had a basketball game that night. I don't remember what team we played, if we wore our white or green jerseys, how many points I scored or how many rebounds I had. I don't remember if the gymnasium was crowded or empty or even if my parents were there to watch me play. I don't even remember if we won or lost. All I remember was that the game went into double overtime. And that is what started my life on the course it has remained on for the last 33 1/2 years.
I had made arrangements to go to the mall after the game with a girlfriend from high school whom I had not seen since we graduated. By the time the game was over, showers were done and the gym lights were turned off, it was too late to go the mall. She suggested that we go to a local bar on the wrong side of town. Now I was no saint in college, but even I avoided this particular bar because it was well known that nice girls did not frequent this bar and I was a nice girl. I nixed that idea immediately until she said "it's college night and everyone from here will be there." So, I relented with the stipulation that I would be the one to drive and that if I wanted to leave and she didn't, she'd have to find her own ride out of there. So off we went!
We arrived around 10pm. There were quite a few friends from school there. We all just stood around mostly watching other people dance on the dance floor. I looked across the room and saw a tall, handsome, clean cut young man with the most amazing dark eyes I had ever seen. For a fleeting moment I wondered what he might be like but as I saw all the other strikingly beautiful women in the room, I quickly put that thought to rest. There were just too many really pretty girls there for me to even be in the running with someone that looked like him. So we stood.
After a song finished, someone stumbled off the dance floor and barreled right into my friend, knocking her backwards into the group of guys that were standing behind us. I turned to see that the guy behind her had caught her and kept her from falling on the floor. As I straightened up after helping him get her to her feet, I glanced up at his friend to thank him too. It was Mr. Dark Eyes. Somehow we had ended up standing next to each other. I quickly turned around as I felt my face starting to blush. As the next song began, my friend's rescuer asked her to dance and she went off with him, leaving me standing in a bar where you never wanted to appear to be alone, so as an act of self preservation, I turned around and started a conversation with Mr. Dark Eyes and his buddy. We chatted, finding out that they were from Pennsylvania. You see, you could legally drink beer at age 18 in Maryland, so all the Pennsylvania people would come to MD to go to the bars so they could drink legally too. But Mr. Dark Eyes didn't appear to be drinking and was actually very cognizant considering that it was now almost 11pm. I never drank much at all, but certainly never during basketball season. A slow song started playing and I could see in those eyes that he wanted to ask me to dance, so I just waited. Finally, he asked me if I would like to and of course, I said "yes". I don't remember much about that first dance either except that I noticed we were the same height and that he had really strong arms. After the dance, he announced that they had to go but before leaving asked if we would like to meet them there in two nights. We agreed.
I honestly thought I would never see him again. I thought that we would go there on a night that wasn't college night, that he wouldn't show up and then we would have to deal with all the not-so-desirable types until we could get out of there. Having recently had my heart greatly disappointed by a childhood friendship that I thought might be turning into something more, I just wasn't ready or willing to take the rejection, so I determined that I wasn't going to go. But again, my friend prevailed in convincing me to go-she also let me drive. :-)
So Thursday night came and we went back to that bar on the wrong side of town and lo and behold, he was there. ( I later found out that he was not aware of the reputation of the bar because he was from a different state.) That was the last time I ever dated anyone but him. For the next 3 1/2 years, we were inseparable until on May 15, 1982, I married Mr. Dark Eyes.
In some ways it feels as if we have been together forever. We can practically read each other's minds. We finish each other's sentences. We are even hungry for the same things at the same time. I know every crinkle in the side of his face, especially when he smiles a certain way. I could pick his voice out of all the other voices in a crowded room.
Those eyes, looking into mine still make my face flush just as they did the first time he looked at me and I still feel the same excitement to be with him now as I did then, so in some ways, it feels as if we haven't been together very long at all, certainly not long enough to grow so comfortable with each other that we take one another for granted as happens with so many marriages. I still watch the clock for the time when he will be coming through the front door and my heart beats a little bit faster when I hear his truck pulling into the driveway. In the morning, the first thing I do is reach over and touch him because having him there is such a miracle to me. Circumstances of life can be all over the place, but he is always the same and that gives me cause to always be thankful.
He is a gift to me. Even after all this time, I still wonder at the wisdom and the mercy of God that He allowed me to marry such a man. To think that I have had nearly a third of a century to spend loving and being loved by such a person as my husband is beyond anything I could have even thought to desire or plan for. It is as scripture says "beyond all I could ask or think." My life could have taken so many different turns, but somehow I ended up with the most incredible man I have ever known. All I can think is that someone prayed about my husband long before I met him and as a result of God answering those prayers I received the biggest blessing of them all. (I'm going to thank that person in heaven some day!)
If time will allow us another 30 years, it would still not be enough for us to express all the love we feel for each other, but we both realize that at some point, we won't be married any longer. But I don't think that will bother us then because along the way we found an even greater love than the one we share with each other. It is our love for Jesus Christ. And that love for Christ supersedes our love, yet enhances and enriches all the love that we have for each other here on this earth. In fact, it is the source of our love for each other. It is a love that is eternal.
But for now, we have been blessed with something that is precious and priceless. Marriage is holy in the sight of God. It is to be guarded, cherished, nurtured and enjoyed.
There are no words that can aptly express what my heart feels for this man. As it says in Proverbs 31, I "can look to the future and smile" for I have eternity with Christ to look forward to, but I also have the added blessing of enjoying everyday of right now too......all because a basketball game went into overtime.