“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable." - C.S. Lewis The Four Loves
They told him to fly. Fly, because you can, the doctor said. Fly because you love it. Fly because it makes you feel alive, alert, and yourself.
His eyes light up when he talks of flying, his mind acutely aware of all the details of landing a tail-dragger. Forty some odd years of flying ought to make you an expert at that. But, he notes, there are certain skills you can't teach someone that are like second nature to the person who possesses those skills. My hubby, he nods his head. And I listen, knowing that my husband has keen eyesight and perception, and notices details most would miss. This perhaps is part of being a pilot. His hands, they can fix airplanes. But they can't fix this. Fly, they said. And he thinks of all he will leave and what comes next.
He asks Hubby to fly. "Fly, because soon I won't be able to. Fly, because we love it. Fly because it makes us feel alive, alert, and ourselves." An airplane can soar in the quietness of the sky on a clear day above farm ground, and miniscule monopoly homes. Fly, because it makes problems seem far away.
He looks at the calendar and calculates. If we time this right, Hubby will have his tail-dragger certification in November. Our friend gets weaker, but still talks of flying. He knows he soon will not have the strength to operate his plane. Between trucking and flying, it is what he has known best.
He sits in our living room and tears up. "They gave me this quilt to remind me that I'm covered with God's love." He still walks, and lives. But if you ask him what he does, he'll tell you he quit his job in August, sold his trailer and truck, the only income he's ever known, because he was diagnosed. "Two months, they said. Four if you are lucky." Terminal lung cancer will bring an end to his life, there will be no cure, just maintenance.
"Fly," the doctor said. "Fly because you love to."
Fly, he says, and is letting go slowly but surely. He knows that God loves him and holds him. It's the grief of goodbyes, and the separation pain He feels. We feel it, too. "I'll try to get certified," Hubby says, knowing that it will take time and energy. "We'll fly," he says, even though neither of us want to think of a day when his strength is so depleted that Joseph will have to fly.
Something like this should hurt. We could withdraw from it knowing that the grief of death is coming, but love chooses. Love chooses not to withdraw. Love anything, and you will risk being hurt.
"We'll fly," Hubby says. Inside it feels like my heart is tied, bound with ropes of sadness.