I left the old neighborhood and drove to another part of town where my aunt lived. I came to see her, thinking it would probably be the last time I would see her before she died. Her husband greeted me at the door and invited me in. And there she was. I hardly recognized her.
She was in a wheelchair, wearing a faded housedress. Her hair was gray and stringy; her muscles, atrophied; her skin, like a baby bird's, thin and translucent to where you could see the embroidery of her veins. She was frail and looked as if she would break if you hugged her. I hugged her, and she didn't. But she didn't recognize me either. She babbled incoherently, repeating a series of syllables...
I touched her hand and stroked the soft, slack skin on her arm. "I have to leave now," I told her, trying to get her attention over the babbling. And as I reached down to hug her, the babbling stopped. "I love you," I said as I kissed her forehead. Her frail, slack arms reached up to me, trembling with weakness, and she tried the best she could to hug me and said, "I love you too."
She remembered who I was. Maybe only for a moment, but she remembered.
As I got into my car, tears pooled in my eyes. So this is how it all ends. This is how we slip out of this world, with all the limitations of a baby but with none of its loveliness...
But it wasn't death that bothered me that day. It wasn't even the debilitating effects of getting old. It was the obliteration of memory. To have all that history erased. All those birthday and Christmases and family vacations. All the laughter, all the tears, all the love that was shared, the words that were spoken, all that was given and received, all of it gone. Every bit of it gone. That was the tragedy.
"I love you."
"I love you too."
All of the gospel is in those words. And that is the other window I saw. For you and I have lost our memory, forgotten who we are and who it is that loves us. Yet even in our forgetfulness, God has not forgotten us. He reaches down to embrace us, to kiss us on the forehead and tell us, "I love you." the best we can do is remember for a moment who we are and, even if it's for the briefest of moments, remember who it is that loves us, reach up with our palsied arms, respond with our faltering voice, and say, "I love you too."
"I love you" is a pretty accurate translation of the words God spoke through the Cross.
"I love you too" is not too far a translation of the thief's response when he said, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom," when, for the briefest of moments, and maybe for the first time in his life, he remembered who he was and who it was that loved him.
Lord, help me to remember every moment who I am and to Whom I belong. Even in my sleep, Father, let me dream of You. Your Word declares these things to me.
I am Yours and You are mine.
I have been purchased by You at the expense of the blood of Your Son, Christ Jesus.
I am Your precious Little One.
I am a child of the King of all the Universe.
I am Your special work of art--Your masterpiece.
I am Your friend.
I am part of Your Holy Bride.
I am an extension of Your hands and feet on this earth.
I am not an accident or a random happening. I am the product of Your Holy Imagination and Your Divine Plan for the ages.
I am Yours and You are mine.
Amen, Little One.