People are often dissatisfied with gaps in their teeth, easy fix, orthodontia. A gap in your fence, nail in a new slat. A gap in finances, cut up your credit card.
When riding the subway, aka “tube” in London you will see and hear the warning signs, "Mind the Gap.” It is an audible and visual warning phrase issued to rail passengers to take caution while crossing the spatial gap between the train door and the station platform as the drop is deep, dark and dangerous.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have this warning signal before falling into one of life’s gaps? You know the gaps I’m talking about, gaps of sadness, fear, loss, disappointment. Everyone must choose to mind these gaps rather than fall into something that is deep and dark and ominous.
I heard this term, “Mind the Gap” on the radio a while back and this phrase has been gnawing at me since. Why? What gap do I need to be mindful of falling into? Why did this phrase so resonate with me that it continues to echo in my mind?
Steve’s birthday is tomorrow, April 13th. Steve was never big on birthdays, attention, gifts... however, being a big birthday fan, I struggled with his birthday nonchalance every year. Finally, I solved the “Steve Birthday Dilemma.” I found the gift that made him happiest, German chocolate cake. On really good years he would receive two cakes one from me and one from Lynn. Oh how he loved his cake! It had to be iced all over, not just the top and in-between layers. Steve’s cake had icing on the sides and the best was the left over icing, he kept in the frig so he could dollop extra sugary goo on each bite.
Oh, how I wish there were no gap to mind today. How I wish I were making that cake for Steve instead of writing these words. I wish Steve were still sliding, sock-footed down our hardwood halls, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" style. I long to have him walk, mud covered through the house, proud because he had just mastered some do-it-yourself project in the yard. I want back all the times he would reach out and drape his arm across my shoulders, and pull me back against his chest, so that I could feel his heart beating against the back of my head. Oh, for one more chance to see his wonderful face break into his fabulous smile, to watch him dissolve into laughter until tears rolled down his face. If only I could hear his whisper, “Do you know I love you more than anything in the world, Janet?”
There is a gap in my heart, a gash, a rip, a crack. I doubt it will ever go away, as this is a wound that is deep and real. I recognize this chasm as a sign, a symbol, a badge of honor. It tells of a great love, of a great life, of a great man. That is a gap I never want to fill.
While my heart’s gap is ever-present, I know I must mind this gap. I must make sure that sorrow never supersedes joy in my life, that Steve’s absence never outweighs all the fun, sweet memories we have together.
I must take heed to see and hear the flashing warning, “Mind the Gap,” and not fall into the dark hole of remembering Steve as he was, this time two years ago when the tumor returned with such a vengeance, as I watched cancer win. This is a deep hole that is all too easy to fall into. “Mind the Gap!”
I don’t think it was by chance that my brain stored these three little warning words in the crevices of my mind a week ago. I believe that God’s infinite grace knew what the upcoming days would hold for me and he allowed me to remember this warning, knowing fully that I would need something to grasp hold of, so as not to fall into the huge gap that Steve’s death left.
I write these words today to ensure “Mind the Gap” is forefront in my mind. That when my thoughts fall dark and heavy, I know that God has already built a bridge of hope, of joy, of mercy, of forgiveness. A bridge I can cross over, allowing myself to cross, as Webster’s definition of gap writes, this unfilled space, this interval; this break in continuity.
I am thankful for my life. It is full of blessings and joy. Tomorrow, as I remember Steve on his birthday, I will “Mind the Gap” and I will celebrate how full, how rich, how precious my life was with him. I will find joy in the legacy he left for so many, in the love we had for one another and in the time we had together.
For what it’s worth,
1 Timothy 6:19 “storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”