Cracker crumbs stuck to his tie and broccoli to his teeth as Dr. Taylor told me his story.

“She grew up in Texas, so she’d never seen snow.” He grinned. “The first time she saw it, she started twirling and dancing and laughing like a little girl.”

They met in college in the ’60s. She was an outgoing freshman. He was a nerdy senior. The freshmen had to wear hats the first two weeks of school. She decorated hers like a skunk.

“Sounds like she lit up the room,” I said.

“Oh yes,” he replied. “She was so spontaneous, so…effervescent!”

He continued sharing between bites of fellowship lunch. They got married and had kids.

Now he was alone.

He told me of the diagnosis and decline. From chemo to carrot juice, they did everything. But she didn’t make it.

“She was so spontaneous, so…effervescent!”

“Toward the end, she couldn’t talk, but she could listen,” he said. “I told her she was the wind beneath my wings. She couldn’t say anything, but she patted her heart, and I knew what she meant.”

The love of his life was gone, but the love in his heart wasn’t. He sobbed as he described how much he missed her. Unsure what to say, I simply patted his hand.

Loneliness is no respecter of persons. My former professor was struggling to cope after losing his wife, retiring, and battling his own illness. He was vacationing alone when I spotted him at potluck. I’m glad I did, because it was an honor to listen.

Everyone has a story and every story involves suffering. We’re blessed with seasons of joy, but not immune to intense pain.

I love that God knows the whole story. He knows every detail of Dr. Taylor’s life, mine, and yours. Friends and family share some experiences with us, but God sees every moment.

It was sad to watch Dr. Taylor cry, but I’m thankful for a God who cries with him. A God so desperate to relieve suffering, He came to bear the brunt of it.

I’ve heard there won’t be seasons in heaven, but for Dr. Taylor’s sake, I think it’ll snow. And Mrs. Taylor, with a new name and a new body, will twirl and dance and laugh in all her effervescent glory. It’s the kind of thing that just has to happen when Jesus makes everything new.

Elise Harboldt

Elise studies theology at Andrews University. A registered nurse, her background is in health ministry and resource development. She is the coauthor of Goodbye Diabetes, Diabetes Undone and graduated from ARISE in 2007.