After the craziness of the holidays Harry and I planned a night out on Saturday. My daughter spent what would become futile effort curling my hair that doesn’t want to ever stay curled while we hummed to the tunes on my Harry Playlist. She separated out the strands of my fine, dark blonde and greying locks and once in a while the tips of her fingers would touch my skin. I love her touch, it felt like perfection. I love her so. The tables were turned, and she was taking care of me. After spraying one layer of curls and preparing the next she asked, “Do you think I’ll be a good mom one day?” Maybe she was thinking the same thing? And I said without hesitation, “I know you will, probably better than me.” She shook her head and said, “Not sure how that would happen.”
My son and his friend Jacob who likes my daughter were playing video games in his room when Harry called from outside the house and told me my son needed to come outside. “I can’t come inside until he does. Um, he has a surprise.”
My son was being lazy when I told him Harry needed his help outside. We all knew what was up except for him. He opened the front door and there was a pink balloon with the face of a pig floating above the glow of candlelight. Rose petals and tea lights lead in a trail from our porch to his car. He was confused at first when he saw the rose petals and turned to me, thinking Harry was up to something, and said, “Awkward.” But by the second balloon he read the note that said, “Pig’s will fly, if you will go with me to the Sadie Hawkins Dance.” And he found his girlfriend waiting by his car at the end of this very elaborate dance proposal. Kids these days…
My daughter and Jacob followed me out of the house to peek at my son hugging his girlfriend and we with Harry witnessed it all. It was fun. A very happy moment. Harry gave me a big hug and a kiss hello and said, “I want to be a part of this family.”
Inside the house Harry met Jacob and as a diehard USC fan, gave him a little bit of a hard time for wearing a UCLA sweatshirt. “Oh it’s just a shirt, I don’t really care.” He meekly replied and everyone laughed.
I kissed my daughter and son goodbye and Harry and I left to go see Les Miserables. His first time ever, and my second. I wasn’t sure if he would like it or not. But I love the story so much. I love the characters and the struggle and toil. If you haven’t seen it, please go see it. And if you haven’t seen it skip the next paragraph.
I especially loved how Valjean allowed himself to be changed by forgiveness and grace and how he then went on to spread love and positively effect other people’s lives. There are many parts to the movie that I love. The scene when he rips apart his parole papers and decides he is not going to be defined by them. When he turns himself in to spare another man’s life when he could have so easily let someone else pay for his crime. I love the scene when he first realizes being a father to Cosette is his life’s calling and purpose and how loving her changes him forever. I love how his only act of pride is that he doesn’t want Cosette to know who he really is…but in the final scene of the movie Cosette learns truly who Valjean was. Her husband tells her the story of how her father saved his life and is a selfless hero. Chased mercilessly by Jalvert who could not receive or accept the grace and forgiveness Valjean extended to him. How one man, Jalvert, who was very much alive chose death instead of redemption and the other, Valjean, dies a fulfilled and blessed man and lives on in the presence of God in Heaven.
Several times Harry and I were wrapped in each other’s arms blubbering like babies while we watched the movie in the dark. I know he was moved by it. I could tell from his tears, from the way he squeezed my hand and pulled me in tight and how he rested his head on my head. I wondered what was going through his head. If he was thinking about his dad. Did he see Jalvert as his dad? Himself as Jean ValJean? I thought of it but never asked him.
We talked about the movie practically for the rest of the night. About redemption and especially about grace and how accepting grace changes a person’s heart. It was deep, it was loving, it was real and honest.
It was special for me because we finally got beyond the intellectual part of our spiritual debate. I was finally able to show him the beauty of true belief and how real conversion can be. How it isn’t just an idea but how it changes hearts and lives. He saw it in Valjean’s character.
But last night was more than just that…it was Harry witnessing the fruit of my life’s work in my children’s activities. My son and the candles and rose petal “dance” proposal. My daughter and a budding romance with a boy I actually like. Harry and I were sitting on opposite ends of my green couch with our feet intertwined still discussing the movie when it was time for Jacob to leave. “You better give this girl a goodnight kiss.” He told Jacob as he walked out the door. When my daughter came in blushing with a big smile on her face, we knew he had done just that and Harry was thrilled his timely suggestion worked. It was their first kiss.
Harry left last night telling me he would not be missing church in the morning. And while he sat next to me, hearing the pastor talk about how as believers we are adopted into God’s family and how he is father to the fatherless, Harry held my hand tight. I don’t now what was going through his mind. We took communion in church today and remembered why we have hope.
As we sung, “We come to give you glory, we come to give you praise” I reflected on how just like Valjean I owe my life to God. He doesn’t owe me anything because He already gave me the greatest gift. He plucked me out of the darkness of my sin and gave me hope, gave me a reason to live, gave me a reason to show kindness and mercy to others, gave me a reason to forgive.
And while at times we all struggle with questions that come from dilemmas like Valjean saying, “Who am I?” I know the answer. I am His. I belong to God. I am forever changed by that fact.
Before Harry had to leave after lunch on this beautiful Sunday, I kissed him with everything I had and I thanked him for making the choices he did this weekend to be with me and my kids, to take me to the movie, and to go to church. He teared up and said that he has a lot of things going on his head. He called this weekend magical, said he was on a high. And I asked him if he could describe it in one phrase what would it be? And he said, “Heaven.”
And I thought how perfect. It was heaven on so many levels.
Between Harry and I it was connecting on a level so deep neither one of us can put it into words. A level that contains nothing physical, and no demands. We are eating, drinking, talking, watching a movie on one realm and on another something else is happening entirely. We look at each other and all we can say is, “Wow. What is this? How can THIS be, when we don’t even understand it?” But it’s as if the heartfelt and sincere motions we go through to commune together in the physical stitch his burlap to my polished cotton in the spiritual. Our hearts are becoming one.
Between Harry and God there is something happening. Puzzle pieces are being found. Understanding is shaping and changing his views. There is movement. Of course, I pray for Harry to meet the day when he can say with confidence that he believes. But at the very least this weekend, he can say that he understands the power of grace like never before because he felt it and it was real.
Between Harry and my children he has a place to call home. Things are getting more comfortable and he is not just a visitor in my house any longer. I watch him as he tries to figure out how to balance loving the fact that my daughter is a vibrant, wonderful young woman and feeling the need to be the “step-dad to be feared” by the boys that like her. He’s working out his role in her life. He sees a chance for himself to be changed by the love of my two children as we adopt him into our family. Just as Valjean sat singing in the carriage as he held Cosette in his arms for the first time I pray this is Harry’s heart.
The movie introduced us to a brand new song that follows the story of the book and fills in gaps left by the musical on stage, Valjean sings to Cosette these words…and they are the perfect words to describe the Heaven we experienced this weekend. Between us, between God, for the sake of family….
Suddenly you are
Suddenly it starts
Can two anxious hearts
Beat as one?
Yesterday I was alone
Today you walk beside me
Something still unclear
Something not yet here
Suddenly the world
Seems a different place
Somehow full of grace
Full of light.
How was I to know
That so much hope
Was held inside me?
What has passed is gone
Now we journey on
Through the night.
How was I to know at last
That happiness can come so fast?
Trusting me the way you do
I’m so afraid of failing you
Just a child who cannot know
That danger follows where I go
There are shadows everywhere
And memories I cannot share
You have warmed my heart
Like the sun.
You have brought the gift of life
And love so long denied me.
Suddenly I see
What I could not see