Thursday, January 13, 2011


Mario at his mom's retirement party...about two months after we met.

Today we woke up and began our day as normal as ever... whatever that means.

We were greeted by all of our wedding china and crystal dirtied from a dinner party the night before, but I knew it would be there...and it was worth it.  The dinner was great and the company was better.

Mario left early for a meeting at the church.  I would follow him later, after getting cleaning and preparation done.

He called me right before I left the house...which usually meant he forgot something and wanted me to bring it.  I answered my phone and heard him talking to someone else... "Hey, babe!"  I said, to interrupt him.

"Hello, my lovely bride," he said, sweetly, breaking away from his conversation to talk to me.  I asked him how he was and how it was going. "Well," he said, "I've been better."

The church building had been burglarized and many things were taken.  We had just finished an inventory and he told me to bring a printed copy of it to the office when I came in.  I sat, in shock...and then asked what had been taken.  As he rattled off a few things, so many thoughts went through my mind: "Who would do this?" "This sounds professional", "Where was our security guard?" "What does this mean for us on Sunday?"

"I gotta go," Mario said, and then said goodbye.

Who in the world would have the audacity to rob a church?  I was indignant.  Whoever did this would pay... someone's gonna pay!!  I worked myself into a full lather on the way to church, and when I got there I found everyone else relatively calm... collected.  Charles even joked that the computers that were taken needed to be upgraded anyway.  I was humbled.  My attitude was so bad, and I wanted to borrow everyone else's who was around me.  Peaceful, cool, prepared.

Then I saw him.  Mario.  Walking toward me in a golf shirt and shorts, my heart skipped a beat.  He is so beautiful, so gorgeous.  So hunky... *sigh*.  And he was on a mission.

"Hey, babe," he said, when he saw me.  "Did you bring the list?" I said that I had, then got the scoop on what was taken and how the dirty little nasty thieves entered our sacred building (there goes my attitude again).   He was with our good friend, Dave, who I chatted with, telling him about our dinner party the night before... and just like that, Mario was gone from me again.

After working on the building set-up for awhile, we made a plan for Sunday and dealt with the misfortune of the burglary.  Our level-headed lead elder, Craig, seemed purpose-driven and nonchalant at the same time.  Mario and Mannie were just like him, arranging for different things to be done for clean-up.

At some point, Mario came near me and said  "Do you have an aspirin?" I told him I didn't then asked why.

"I must have pulled a muscle, or something."  he said.  "My back hurts really bad."   I gave him a kiss and told him maybe he should go home.  Knowing Mario, he'd work through the pain and probably ignore for as long as he could.  As soon as the elders could break free from the center, Mario kissed me goodbye.

A couple of hours later Mario called me while I was in a meeting.  He was in pain, and was sure it was more than a pulled muscle now.  We made plans to see the doctor at two.  When I got home, Mario was at a new level of pain, showed me where it hurt and pointed to his kidneys.  I winced.

"Maybe you have a kidney infection," I said, recalling my recent past and back pain memories.  He shrugged and said  "Maybe so."

The doctor confirmed Mario's pain by telling him (after he pulled out a computerized analysis of his urine test) that he had way too much blood in his urine and no sign of infection.  This most likely meant he had a kidney stone.

I looked from the doctor to Mario who had turned white... He looked at me, and my heart swelled with the most protective love I had previously only felt for my kids.  I wished I could take the pain and the problem away...endure it myself, if need be.  Still, Mario's response was calm and cool and he asked what the course of action would be.  The doctor prescribed meds, sent us on our way and told us to call if the pain got worse.

The pain got worse.  Tonight as we watched a dumb movie on our big screen, Mario laid flat on one of our couches.  To see him taking the pain in silence both worried me and made me admire him.  Finally, we decided to call the doctor, who told us to go to the hospital.

The best part of going to the hospital when you're in pain is the pain injections you get -they work.  Mario felt relief for the first time today, and said so.  The emergency room doctor came back with another computerized read-out and said that Mario's urine had gone from bad to worse.  "We may have to surgically remove these," the doctor said in a French accent.  He stood with a chart in his hand, six feet one or two, looking down at my reclining husband, pretty giddy from the injection.

  "Whatever,"  Mario said.  I could hardly believe my ears.  Surgery was a big word and it freaked me out, kind of like the burglary did.

"I'd like to admit you," the doctor said.  "We'll run more tests in the morning and then have you seen by the urologist.  He'll know a lot more than me."  Mario smiled, and asked him where he was from.  The doctor was from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which led Mario and him through a long chat about Africa and how we pray constantly for her leadership and common values.

 I was still reeling from the "s" word.  Maybe things would change in the morning.  Maybe I should just mellow out.

After the doctor had left Mario told me to get home.  It was now after midnight.  He told me to sms him as soon as I was locked in our house.  He also told me how it was the last time I was in the hospital and he had to sleep in our bed without me.  "It will be sad," he said, trying to comfort me.

Looking at my husband, after a long day of surviving pain in many forms, I saw not only beauty, but a familiar grace and strength that had become my borrowed comfort in times of stress and trouble.  I was suddenly filled with love for him.

I prayed for him, kissed him goodnight and shut off the light.  A small light shone behind him, glowing from a corner that couldn't be seen before in the brightness of the overhead.  I smiled.

Such is life.

Mario at a party at our place washing dishes...just a few weeks ago.