One year ago today, I followed the wise council of my inner-circle of friends, the guidance of God, and my internal impulse and married Shawna L. Grace. We both understood that we were attempting to do something that others believed to be impossible, that being, have a mature, grown-folks expression of what can only be termed “Black Love”. Although many may expect me to say something that is cliché such as ‘It doesn’t feel like a full year, because it has been so smooth and easy’ on our Anniversary Date; however, such a statement would not be reflective of my relatively brief walk with this amazing woman.
I am blessed to be present to tell you that our initial year has been far from easy, solely due to an unexpected health issue that turned our marriage upside down a mere 5 weeks after our the day that we shared our vows.
Although it was difficult to realize in the midst of the storm that my illness placed me within, in hindsight I can say that I was actually placed me in a most fortunate position as it allowed me to learn things about my mate that it often takes others a lifetime to discover. Most notably her qualities of commitment, unconditional love, steadfastness, attentiveness to my most crucial needs, and being self-sacrificing. These things have been revealed to me at an incredibly accelerated pace.
For my wife, her vows of ‘in sickness and in health’ were tested immediately. Just take a moment and imagine that during that crucial period of bonding that the one that you have pledged your love to before friends, family, and most importantly God, fell seriously ill. Rest assured that I am not speaking about a ‘typical illness’, slightly over 30 days after our wedding day, I lost the ability to speak, developed blood clots in my left leg, and found myself hospitalized on life support facing the amputation of my entire left leg. I have come to understand that things were incredibly grave as my blood work indicated that certain numbers were triple those that any human body could withstand. I cannot tell you how many times that my Doctor’s and Nurses related that it was a miracle that I was alive.
In the midst of this storm stood my beloved wife who needed to make crucial decisions regarding my life at literally a moment’s notice. Although partially devastated by the situation, she, with the help of a team of incredible M.D.’s, was able to make the best decisions possible and keep me in the land of the living.
During this time, I have come to learn so much about my wife and the village of believers that she has around her, I am convinced that it was ‘the fervent prayers of the righteous that availed much’ that miraculously ushered me through this dire situation. Each day and each moment that I was blessed enough to experience in the land of the living was gifted to me by God as he honored the powerful lamentations of the ‘prayer warriors’ that my wife called together for this redemption project.
I must tell you that my recovery process was long and arduous as I had to learn to speak again, stand again, walk again, etc. I often tell people that I went through this process physically, while my wife went through it psychologically. I watched as Shawna not only busied herself attending to each and every need that I had, many of which I was totally unaware of, while religiously neglecting every one of hers. She in many ways gave up a period of her life so that I could live and build toward a better day.
It has been through my wife’s sacrifice that I truly came to understand what Love is. I have come to recognize that the most significant expressions of Love aren’t always fragrant like roses or sweet like her favorite molten chocolate cake from J. Alexander’s. Oftentimes, Love is expressed in an unending self-sacrifice that calls you into catering to your mate’s needs when they are incapable of addressing them.
I must relate that my wife is truly my best friend, one of the funniest people I know (just don’t tell her that I said that — don’t want it to go to her head), my confidant, my ‘help-meet’, who has shown me over the past 365 what type of dynamic and courageous woman that she is. Shawna, I love you in ways that cannot be expressed with words and appreciate all that you do as a wife in equally unutterable ways.
I literally owe you my life; I would not be here in the land of the living if you had not interceded on that Saturday morning when you realized that something was most certainly awry. It is for that reason and a host of others that I today express to you my unending love and commitment to this union that we have chosen to create.
I look forward to many more Anniversaries’ with you and am most certain that we will continue to do what we do and show the world that ‘Black Love’ is possible without any of the usual B.S. that seems to needlessly appear.
Rest assured that even if we are one day separated by death that I would diligently search through a million lifetimes to find you again, and again, and again, because I can’t imagine life without you. You are truly God’s promise to me. And I will continue to show you through each and every action and thought that I not only Love you unconditionally, but also with a commitment that nothing, not even death, could ever defeat.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016