Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Message on a Back Bumper

A month ago I had a doctor’s appointment that made me a bit nervous. A routine ultra sound had shown a small irregular spot in my uterus. It was only a tiny spot, and this appointment was a follow-up to see whether it had grown or changed. My husband, always supportive, came along. But he just happened to slip away for a moment when the nurse called me in. Not knowing how long he would be, I went into the office alone. Meanwhile, when my husband returned and realized I was already having the second ultrasound—too late for him to enter--he found a way to keep himself busy. He went to the parking lot and found a roll of orange duct tape in the back of my car. With a permanent marker he wrote “I love you Kris” backwards on a strip of the tape. Then he affixed it to the back bumper of my car. This way, he thought, when I put my car in reverse, my back-up camera would reveal the surprise message.

The ultrasound results were good. The spot was entirely gone. Perhaps it had only been a flaw or shadow. Relieved, I met my husband and shared the information. We exhaled our relief. Then we got into the car to leave, and that’s when I first saw his note appear on the screen.

The tape stayed stuck on the bumper for several weeks. It survived a road trip to California and several rain storms. It held through dozens of trips to the grocery store, and a few jaunts to the movies. It was there every time I backed up--a daily love note from my husband--something to smile about. Something to give me pause and to marvel, once again, that I am deserving of love. This has been a difficult thing to accept after having love withdrawn so cruelly in my past.

After some time, the tape began to curl, and soon it would be gone. Ahhh well. It had been a novelty while it lasted.

And then came my birthday. Along with a new bike and an ice cream cake was an odd strip of metal in an envelope. My husband had gone to an engraver and had the words “I LOVE YOU KRIS” inscribed backwards on a metal plate. We laughed together as he tore away the old tape and affixed the message permanently to my back bumper. What had been a temporary love note—an afterthought—would now be a constant reminder of his love and affection.

I’m so glad for the little things--the messages on back bumpers that remind us what matters most. But mostly I’m grateful to love and be loved. It is such a gift. Thank heaven for second chances that take us to a better place.

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