One Monday morning my wife left me. Packed up some earthly belongings, our only daughter, and a Visa card before heading west for a week, leaving Jeffrey, Stephen, and me to fend for ourselves.
For her this was good. She deserved a break. She deserved to surround herself with mountains and siblings and hot springs. But for me? Well… Let me say I developed a new theory that week. If you're a theologian you may disagree with me, but here goes: I think God invented Eve mainly to help Adam find things.
Adam would be walking around saying, “Let me see…where did I put those figs?” and none of the animals would tell him. So, after God stopped laughing, He thought, This guy can do without a rib, but not without a wife. Ever since, men have been pursuing women, largely because we need help finding stuff, “Honey, do you remember where we put the kids?”
That week I visited the fridge roughly 450 times and found nothing there. Oh sure, there was milk. Parmesan cheese and soy sauce. But where were the sandwiches? The lasagna? These are the things meals are made of.
Stephen ran out of socks on Tuesday, and we weren't sure where fresh ones came from. I couldn't find my wife's list of meal suggestions. Jeffrey couldn't find any more shirts, so he wore the same one 24 hours a day. It had a most interesting design. This shirt could tell you what we'd eaten the last five days. Mostly we'd eaten pizza. Sometimes we ordered it in. If we were really famished we'd go get it. For breakfast we enjoyed Fruit Loops, which have all the nutritional value of steel-belted radials. For lunch, I phoned friends and told them my wife was gone, then wept openly. No one seemed to care. The girls would come home and find us flat out on the carpet—pale, emaciated, gasping. “We couldn't find the Rolaids,” would be our famous last words.
On Thursday we went to a baseball game and consumed our weight in hot dogs. The box told us they contained “actual meat products,” which was certainly a comfort. After the final out Jeffrey rubbed his belly and asked, “When's Mom coming home?”
“In six more meals,” I told him. He rolled his eyes and uttered the cutest burp.
What I didn't tell him was this: Although she promised to return Sunday, she was the mother of three young children and has a husband who can't find anything, so we may not see her until the boys' high school graduation. I also did not tell him that even as we speak she's probably sitting in the hot springs swapping childbirth stories with her sisters and saying, “They thought I was coming home Sunday. Can you imagine? Just how insane do they think I am?” And then the mountains would echo with crazed laughter.
On Friday night I went to a convenience store to pick up the necessities of life: some pop, some chips, a Rocky video. Standing in line, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was a classmate from high school. We exchanged handshakes. “How's it going?” he asked. “Oh, man,” I said, laughing, “my wife's gone for a week, so I'm here to pick up some health food. Life's been a little wild lately.”
He looked down and kicked at a floor tile.
“How about you?”
“Well, not so good. My wife's…well…she's been gone on a more permanent basis. She left a year ago, you know….” His voice trailed away as a little girl peeked out from behind him.
“I'm sorry,” I said, embarrassed. “I didn't mean to…I'm sorry.”
Our kids are grown now, but I still remember that week so well. It reminds me of life. Of love. And God's amazing grace. You see, after I got home from the convenience store, I searched through the freezer looking for ice cream. I found some. And to my surprise I found a whole lot more. Lasagna. Home made buns. All beef hot dogs. My wife had put them there for us. I hadn't found the note she left.
I guess that's life.
Sometimes the best things we'll ever have were there all along.