Life is Too Short to Mess Around About Hearts and Love

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Life is short. It’s just too short…

We had a heart scare this week. When my son and I got home from homeschool co-op on Tuesday, Tink (my husband, aka David Tinker, but I call him Tink) was complaining of chest pains.

And life is too short to mess around about hearts and love. So I drove him directly to the ER to get checked out.

After an overnight stay at the hospital they found no signs of heart attack and no blockages of any kind. The cardiologist suggested stress as the most likely culprit for the chest pain. Stress management then was the order of the day.

And while stress management isn’t the easiest thing to master, it’s way better than dealing with a life-threatening heart condition.

I tried not to be too worried as we were getting Tink checked out. I mean, we both knew that we were erring on the side of caution. But still, when there was enough doubt that the doctor wanted to keep him overnight, it did make me think about how short life is…

I think there was part of me at 18 years old that already knew that life was too short to mess around about hearts and love. And that’s why I didn’t mess around about how I felt about Tink–then a seminarian on the verge of his ordination and about to begin pastoring his first church.

Let me back up a bit and give you a little more context for these hearts and this love…

I was 15 years old, a sophomore in high school, and he was 25, a second-year seminary student when we met.

Our little church in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio was a frequent wayside rest for Lutheran college and seminary students. And part of my family’s ministry was to extend hospitality to students for however long or short a time they were with us.

So, when Tink came to my church as a guest of our college-aged church musician, we did what we always did and invited them both to lunch. And whenever Tink came back to visit my church, we included him in our lunch plans.

It was no big deal really. I mean, this was just our thing. I was comfortable talking with these students because I had been practicing for so long. At points I felt more comfortable talking with them than people my own age.

Tink’s initial visits to my church were related to an assignment for one of his seminary classes. He even interviewed me for the assignment and quoted me in the paper he wrote about it!

Around Christmas of that year we started writing letters to each other. Even though he was in seminary only 20 minutes from my house, we didn’t see each other very often because he ordinarily had field work at another church. The following year Tink went all the way to Miami, Florida for his seminary internship. Our letters throughout this time were our primary means of connection.

Tink came back to Columbus for his final year of seminary classes during the summer that I was 17. I was on the verge of my senior year of high school. He called me to help him move in. By this time I had developed feelings for him, but I knew he was way too old for me and it could never be. So I helped him move into his apartment and tried to play it cool.

I didn’t see him again until November of my senior year. He showed up at my church to preach while our pastor was on vacation. I had no idea I would see him that day, but all my feelings for him rushed in on me.

But then he told me he was leaving again. He was going to Mexico City for a seminary cultural immersion experience and he would be gone for weeks again.

I finally had him back after intermittent contact and there he was leaving me all over again. I just thought it must be for the better because what was I doing having feelings for this seminary student on the verge of entering the ministry?

Then in January, I turned 18.

And later in January, Tink came back to Columbus after his trip to Mexico City and he started coming around more. And instead of letters we started having phone calls. And instead of chaperoned lunches with my family, we went out to dinner just the two of us.

We had always talked easily but then we were talking endlessly. And we had this recurring dialog wondering what life would be like when we couldn’t see each other when I was off at college and he was away at his first church being pastor somewhere.

And it was more and more obvious to me that this was becoming more than “just friends.”

And I knew life was too short to mess around about these hearts and this love between us.

So, one Sunday afternoon–20 years ago this month–I got bold. Tink had come to church and lunch with us and was hanging out at my house with us just talking and talking. The feelings were so obvious and I was so frustrated that he would not broach the subject.

I had to go to work that evening, but I was so tired of dancing around about our feelings that I felt an urgency to tell him how I really felt. So, right before I left for work, I looked him in the eye and I just blurted out the line that will live in infamy:

“Dave, I love you, and I want to marry you!”

And he didn’t say it back. And he started mumbling something in Spanish! I mean, we both knew some Spanish, so we sometimes did that for fun, but this was not a time for that!

I left for work with no clear picture of how he felt about what I had said.

I was so out there. I mean, it’s one thing to be the first one to say, “I love you,” but I went and tacked on that bit about marriage too!

I worked my shift in a daze, just totally shaking my head at myself. But hey, life’s too short, right?

As my shift was ending though, guess who showed up at my work place?

You guessed it! It was my David.

I wasn’t sure whether to be nervous or excited. Was he coming to let me down easy and tell me I had imagined what I thought was between us, or was he coming to admit that he felt it too?

Finally, he said, “I just had to come and see you and make sure that the world is real and make sure that you meant what you said to me!”

And I clocked out of my shift and we went out to the parking lot to talk it over. I reiterated my sentiment and waited for him to respond in kind. But he still hesitated.

“Just say it!” I demanded! I wanted him to tell me that he loved me too! I needed to hear him say it.

He nodded his head.

That was not enough for me.

“Just say it!” I demanded again.

And finally he said it and there was no more messing around about hearts and love from then on. Which is really good, because life is too short.

P.S. It turns out that Tink actually made note of the exact date in his Pastor’s Desk Diary in 1994. He noted it simply as “Jennifer Day.” (See photo below)

JenniferDay

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Hermano Grande on February 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I never knew lots of this story. This is really great stuff. Like romantic movie stuff. Like you should write a screenplay stuff.
    Pluswhich, (btw, I love that we use “pluswhich”) it is a true story that is a great illustration of the importance of love. Well done, Gwen!

    • Goodness, Big Brother, this was the light-weight, super-abbreviated, edited for the Interwebs version…I’m surprised you wouldn’t have known at least this much. Then again, you were off at college when the romance blossomed.

  2. Posted by Terri Kardos on February 21, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    What a beautiful story! I am glad Pastor Dave is okay. You were a brave girl even back then. Thanks for sharing that.

  3. Posted by Terri Kardos on February 21, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Gwen?

  4. Posted by Maria on February 21, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Glad all is OK! What a sweet story!

Comments are closed.