By Matt Gordon
The light from the front porch shines unwelcomed into our bedroom. Some nights I get up to check on the boys and I pull the bedroom door near-to-closed behind me, barring the light. But slowly and gently—likely due to some foundation settling of some sort—the door opens; the light increases.
This is the picture of my wife Hannah. She is not good because she is my wife, as we sometimes are prone to see the world. She is good because she is good. Just plain good. Her goodness rubs off. She goes about ordering the world around her. She sweeps then mops. While scouring the floors of blemishes, she changes a light bulb here, fixes a hinge there. No corner of our home is safe from her nurturing work ethic. The world is no safer from her proclivity toward the good.
Arriving home from work one day, my two-year-old took me to the front door. He wanted to show me the toy on the front porch—his toy—that was being given away to another child. I asked if that was hard, but he told me, with the stops and starts of a toddler becoming a child, that it was nice to give things away to other people, especially when they really wanted something. Behind his piety, stood his mother. She is there behind all our goodness.
We’ve been married nearly nine years; I’ve yet to hear her complain. About anything. Sick? Sore? Pregnant? Tired? Too much to do? You wouldn’t know it. In fact, you don’t know many of the things she does. The plants are green and only the accidental water splotch on her shorts gives her away as the waterer—the giver of life. She plants and grows things. She reads to our boys and plays with our boys and lays on the floor and becomes a makeshift jungle gym for them; making herself low for the joy of others.
She doesn’t gossip either. Sure, she reports. Mockingly, her family and I call her “Iris” when she attempts to build and crack a case. Why the neighbors stopped mowing the lawn mid-cut or why a friend posted this or that picture online. It is never mean-spirited speculation, more optimistic curiosity.
She keeps money hidden—I can’t tell you where. This little stash is had through selling household items or old clothes in an endeavor she calls Hannah, INC. The purpose of this windfall of cash? The ability to splurge on gifts for me discreetly. In this manner I found a bicycle hidden in our laundry room one birthday. When I turned thirty, a pile of this sacred boon was given to me to book flights and tickets to MLB Spring Training. Even when money is tight, she finds a way to bless beyond herself. It is just her way.
When my wife’s mother passed away I worried for Hannah. In one fell swoop—the fellest of swoops—she had lost her best friend, her confidant, her inspiration, an incredible grandmother and caretaker to our boys, along with her mama. And it broke her. It still does. But she is the type of woman who is somehow made better through the breaking, like a muscle that returns to life stronger the next day. As the storms of death and loss rage, she is able to dry herself off and enjoy the sun all the more in-between swells. Washing our boys and her father in love and empathy and care. She is not beyond the pain, like it is a smudge on the floor that just needs to be wiped clean. She is down deep in the suffering, but standing tall and moving forward despite the weight of it.
About eleven times a year she’ll swear for comedic effect. A similar number of times she’ll laugh herself to snorts and tears. Her common reserve empowers her infrequent frivolity, bringing the joke and joy instantly alive to others. And speaking of others: She hides treats for them—her dad’s favorite ice cream tucked in the back of the freezer. A special cupcake for our son, saved not for some achievement but for the perfect just-because moment.
She is too good for me. And that is not me being down on myself. She is too good for this world, living in some throw-back way that invokes the joyful anticipation of Heaven. Little culture shock awaits her in that far country.
Dark as I try to let the world be, she lets the light in.