This wise and affecting story from Image Journal explores how love sometimes manifests itself through the least obvious choices:
LENT SHOULD BE in the summer that she might make use of the hotel pool, bandaged up outside like an open wound. She never had a pool. She had a cat but her cat is dead. Buried in leftover snow behind the garage until the ground softens. It would be nice to swim in a pool. But then she remembers: I am Jesus in the desert! No swimming allowed.
I am giving you up, she told her family. For Lent.
What was hers anymore that she could give up? That no one else could use without permission, take without asking, even wear, now that the oldest was a teen and her size? Answer: the cat. The found feral cat from college, from before all of them and during all of them, tucked into the right angle of her armpit every night. But after they started arriving every couple of years, the cat (may she rest in peace) was no longer her greatest joy. They were.
You are my greatest joy, she said. And so, she addressed the question marks around the dinner table, you see what a sacrifice this is.
Of course they didn’t believe her. They never really knew how to read her. She complained of being an old lady one day and ran around making snow angels the next. She occasionally referred to them jokingly as parasites, but cried every time she read The Giving Tree. This Lent thing was obviously a joke. Except it wasn’t. She’d been doing research, Googling “Lent,” Googling “lenten sacrifice,” Googling “hotel reservations.” Here, she said, producing a receipt. She’d printed it off of Travelocity and scratched out the hotel name and address but not the city, which was the same one they lived in. You’re going to stay right here in town, they said, mockingly. I’m not giving up my whole life, she said. Just you.
Read the whole thing here.