When my youngest daughter, Madison, was in preschool, some fifteen years ago, we had the screen on our lanai cage replaced. For those of you who don’t know what a lanai is, it is a screen enclosure around a pool that allows the outside to become additional living space without bugs. It is a very common part of houses here in Florida. Especially houses with pools. I am writing about this because tomorrow the screen on our lanai is going to be replaced. We will be saying “good-bye” to our old screen that gave us fifteen years of service. With the improvements in screen technology, our new screen is touted to give us even more than fifteen years, barring any natural disasters or big dogs that decide to chase after rabbits.
Our screen watched as both my daughters grew up and evolved from learning how to swim, to swimming all the time, to not wanting to get their hair wet, to lounging on rafts with a cool drink in their hands. Our screen watched birthday parties, Sunday afternoon family swims, countless cook outs and even the occasional late night skinny dips! Our screen watched as we transitioned from play houses and slides to outdoor furniture and grills. Our screen watched as we planted little bushes that have now become very large bushes and has seen our palm trees grow to tower over the lanai. Our screen was with us as we mourned the loss of a very special dog. Our screen was also with us as we were filled with joy in meeting a new, very special dog. Our screen witnessed hours upon hours of working conversations that Michelle and I have enjoyed over the years in that outdoor living space. Our screen has survived several tropical storms and even a few hurricanes that came too close for comfort. As weird as it sounds, our screen has been a part of our family and tomorrow it will be replaced.
Fifteen years ago I didn’t even think to wax poetic about the changing of the screen. The screen was old and worn and needed to be changed so that we could enjoy our pool and lanai. The same is true today, but the difference now is that we have a relationship with this screen. The former screen was the screen that came with the house when we bought it. It was the previous owner’s screen,. This screen is our screen. Relationship makes all the difference in the world. Without relationship, life is nothing more than a collection of events strung together. With relationship, things like a lanai screen are personified and become a part of a family’s story.
I was walking around the Cardiac Critical Care Unit in the early part of May, just after Mother’s Day, and I was thinking about my heart. Yes, I was in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant. Yes, I knew that if I didn’t get a transplant I wouldn’t be long for this world. Yet, as I was doing laps around the unit I was waxing poetic about my heart and its service to my life over the last fifty-two years. There was a lot of water under that bridge. After all this was the heart that fell in love with Michelle. This was the heart that was with me as I lived in eleven different homes across four different states. This was the heart that provided the energy that I needed to ride my bike everywhere before I got a driver’s license. This was the heart that propelled me through college. This was the heart that melted upon seeing the birth of my daughters. This was the heart that was moved by God to go into ministry. I had a relationship with this heart. It was a part of me. I knew that it was for the best that my heart was replaced, but I still get emotional at the thought of the time we spent together and the service it provided me.
I’m not going to lie, I would have never thought about a lanai screen in this way before my heart transplant. I can’t wait to get our screen replaced because it looks bad and it no longer keeps the bugs out. It is time for a change. It is time to meet a new screen, to make new memories, to continue to live life in a better, new and improved way. Yes, I treasure the memories of the last fifteen years in my home, just like I treasure the memories of the last fifty two years with my old heart. Yet, It is time to upgrade. It is time to turn the page and begin to write a new chapter in life.