My Ricocheting Heart

Today, the simple gray sock I hold in my hand becomes my new best friend. It must be
magic; because here I am, just minding my own business, moving through this mundane
laundry chore, when I come across this sock and feel it unlock a door deep within me. I
am suddenly slingshotted back in time, watching my husband put on these socks before a
run, or take them off at the end of a long day. And the memories act like a trail of
breadcrumbs, each memory leading to another . . .  and another. And I could stay here all

Although it’s been a few years since his death, I’m still not used to the distance between
us. There’s a tension between my present life and my memories, as invisible fibers
connect me to a past fully populated with him. We married at such a young age that we
had lived most of our lives together before he died. We were two naïve, sincere,
independent people, yet one: one shared life, one ministry, one body (a mystery to me,
still). Each day added a new page to our story, building a history—a million moments
linked together. So this back and forth between the present and the past is a well-worn
path. And each time I travel it, the flashes of memory come as an unexpected, welcome

I know I’m promised a future with him, but my imagination strains and lurches as I try to
wrap my head around the idea of heaven. While I’ve become so accustomed to revisiting
the past and relaxing in the comfort of sepia-toned memories, picturing the future is
where I get hung up. I have no building blocks, no raw materials from which to construct
a bridge to him. And the distance feels so far.

“The water is wide, I can’t cross o’er.
And neither have I wings to fly . . . ”*

So many days have passed since he died, like the many folds in a Chinese fan separating
one wooden edge from another. But someday, when my life here is finished, time will
collapse on itself. And all of these days that have stretched between us will disappear.
With a flick of the wrist, the fan will snap shut. And suddenly, stunned, we will find
ourselves side-by-side, with no more space between us, no distance to span. And we will
be one again.

I have no building blocks, no raw materials from which to construct
a bridge to him.

For now, though, I am here, tethered to this earth. And while life continues to animate my
body, I will feel the pull of this tension—aiming to live in the present, while my heart
wants to ricochet between the past and the “someday.” But this day—today—is where I
really need to live. It’s the one place I can make anything happen. If I get too distracted
with either the past or the future, I just might miss the chance to live out my reason for
being here.

It’s a new discipline, this act of gathering myself and my attention back into the present. I
know the longing is a natural phenomenon, a consequence of so much of life lived
together. So I try to approach my wandering focus with compassion—like gently calling
the name of a toddler who has begun to drift away from your side and into a crowd.
“Come back. Stay here.”

Today, the ticking of the clock is not so gentle. It yanks me out of my memories, pushing
me onto a slippery slide that summarily dumps me right smack dab back into this room,
where I hold this simple gray sock in my hand. The clock says it’s time to go. So I stretch
my beloved’s sock and slip it onto my bare foot. Grabbing my tennies, I put them on, step
one foot in front of the other, and head out the door—out the door and into my life.

* Author unknown

Carrie Morris How
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