What Waters Cannot Quench
by Chrissy Hampson
February 5, 2020
“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.” Song of Songs 8:7a
My parents celebrated their 45th anniversary this last December, only it was different because, this time, Dad rejoiced from Heaven. He gloried into eternity last year on March 2nd. We gave my mom a small memento to honor the years of their marriage and some words that, I hope, encouraged.
You see, those last years drew out all of her strength and shifted their love. My dad suffered from a long-term illness. It changed him slowly; twisted his mind and body. For fifteen years we mourned the loss of my dad bit-by-bit as he transformed and crumbled. Although he often was his usual self, studying the Bible and singing a tune, sometimes he was completely opposite. Dad lashed out in indeterminate anger and called people cruel names. He got caught on a certain idea or word and talked about it for months. He was so, so stubborn about his ways. If he wanted something, there was no turning back! These were deep waters set against my parents. My mom, however, walked with my dad through all of this, a faithful caretaker.
The disease progressed so much that my siblings and I questioned whether he should stay home much longer. Before any decisions could be made about how to move forward, however, trouble came. Word came on a Monday morning that Dad had bleeding in his brain from an unknown fall and that it would be drained that day. The family congregated quickly.
The following day, Dad lay in the hospital bed, so small and emaciated from the disease; he lay there with the driest of lips and the parchest of throats, desperately wanting a drink, begging for one with his eyes. My mom, the caretaker, walked over to him holding a wet swab and some chapstick. She dutifully applied them, stopped, and looked down at him.
I saw her eyes soften as she took in his pain and frailty and really gazed upon my dad, as her husband, not her patient.
“I’m so sorry, Tom . . . for all of this,” she sighed, wiping his forehead with her hand.
In that moment of tenderness, Dad felt Mom’s love that many waters had not quenched. He looked straight at her from his hospital bed and spoke three garbled words to his wife of almost 45 years—words she had not heard him say to her for a long while.
“What?” she rasped, “You love me? Did you say you love me?!” She almost gasped it in her disbelief.
“I love you too, Tom,” she answered back tearfully.
Later that night, Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” played, bringing my Mom to tears again as she leaned over Dad’s hospital bed. In an instant, a view of my youthful parents flashed before my eyes: 20 years old, newlyweds, full of hope, unsuspicious of future pain, funny, vibrant, madly in love, and Forever Young. The vision faded back to my faded parents, 45 years later, passing through the waters, victoriously loving each other unquenched. The song played on.
Three nights later, Dad was gone. Nobody knew that we would lose him so quickly. As I watched those priceless moments, I had no idea that I was witnessing not only my dad’s final breaths but the final breaths of a love story that the rivers had not swept away.
Chrissy has spent the best part of the last few months on the couch recovering from surgery. She has enjoyed the rest after a tumultuous year. God is good!