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Viewpoint: The Echo After “I Love You”

By Dennis Edwards

Editorial Columnist

New Journal and Guide

My Uncle Wesley Junior Boone was buried last Saturday. He’d been married to my Aunt Mary Hardie Boone for close to 47 years. They have three adult children and it’s hard to think of one being without the other. There’s something unfair about the idea until we examine their last conversation.

It was the night he died. Uncle Wesley’d been sleeping a lot that Monday. Aunt Mary was troubled by it and said to him “you’re sleeping too much, you know I love you.” He woke up long enough to say “I love you” back, then drifted off to sleep again.

There was something about his last I love you. Something incomplete about the thought. It was like there was another, unspoken phrase after, something that kind of hung in the air like a curious butterfly in flight. It was unspoken, yet spoken. Said but unsaid. So much in life falls into those categories. So much is only understood at the spiritual level.

In a very real sense we come to the point where we realize that life is an eternal thing, a continuation. Some years ago I complained to a friend of mine that I’m getting older. Things need to start happening for me now. He looked at me like friends tend to look at friends who have lost their way. He said “the Lord Knows how old you are.” There was no running from that statement. No escaping the gaze of God.

It was in that moment that I realized that while I think of now. God is thinking of eternity. When I think of bills, obligations, making a way, God is thinking of eternity. So suddenly I am redefined. Transformed from seeing life in immediate terms to understanding that life is about “things eternal” changed my whole view of life.

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Something about that realization drove me to Uncle Wesley’s wake. While I was sitting there behind Aunt Mary, the word “echo” swept over my spirit. But what was the echo? Then it dawned on me. When he said “I Love you” there was something hanging in the air. The words “I’ll see you later” were frozen in the atmosphere by eternity. That was the unspoken echo. The words that made the casual nature of his last statement make sense: “I love you and I’ll see you later.”

What a magnificent final word between husband and wife. A parting statement that puts now and later in perspective. I’m convinced that love is the one truth that transcends time and space. It crosses the divide between life and death and in the economy of eternity links now to then and then to now.

Isn’t that what the language of love is all about? Wasn’t that the language Jesus Christ used when he died for your sins and mine? Think about it. Wasn’t he saying “I Love You” when he was crucified and humiliated on the cross for you and me?

The crucifixion was the ultimate love song and hanging in the air afterward was another blessed assurance. My mind took me back to the same Christ saying, “I go to prepare a place for you so that where I am you will be also.” “I love you and I’ll see you later.”

With all that in mind, my spirit transports me to the place where husbands and fathers always dwell. We are providers. Folks who look to the future all the time. I couldn’t help but consider the casual nature of Wesley’s good-bye. It was as if he was saying, “I’m going in advance to have a spot for you when you get there.”

“I’ll see you later!” Isn’t that the blessed assurance that Jesus is mine here now and later? Isn’t that the foretaste of glory divine?

Speculation, probably. But is it really? Do we ever stop being husbands, wives, parents or providers? And isn’t part of the blessed assurance the promise that we’ll see each other again where the next charter of life begins? Isn’t that The Echo after “I Love You?”

Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award winning Television Investigative Journalist. He is a graduate of Suffolk High School, Virginia Union University and it’s Samuel Proctor School of Theology. Email him at dennisredwards@icloud.com.

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