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I met Robin No-Middle-Name Hill in 2002 through a mutual friend. She was something to behold: tall, svelte, and stately. A confident beauty. Her modelesque walk was a fluid dance of elongated, undulating curves. She kept a proud yet understated sensuality. Her brown skin, bright eyes, wide smile, and trademark honey-and-sunlight braids gave her a striking resemblance to my mother. She was warm, funny, snappy, flirty, and wise. I liked her instantly. I called her My Robin Bobbin. She called me Maaaahk.
She and I were among the nucleus of 12 who co-founded a church together. She was 40 then. Nothing about her indicated that she had recently recovered from two strokes. I was astounded. Her friends had already walked through the fire with her. I wanted to be that kind of friend. I promised myself that if anything ever happened to Robin, I would be by her side. I never told her this.
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Sade’s “By Your Side” is my ideal love song.
Even while writing God and the Silent Treatment, I remembered its lyrics are one answer to the forlorn, abandoned questions posed in Jars of Clay’s “Silence.” Often when romance is exaggerated in love songs, it becomes something men and women are incapable of giving. However, the faithful love described in “By Your Side” is very godlike. It doesn’t take a great leap to relate it to scripture.
“You think I’d leave your side, baby? You know me better than that.”
Doubting God may be engrained in my analytical nature. I almost always need God to mock my unbelief and cite our history. “Do you really think I’d abandon you? C’mon. You may be unsure about many things, but you know that you at least know that.”
I’m like one of those kids who goes into histrionics whenever a parent leaves their sight. Mom or dad has to come back and calm the kid down: “Have I ever left you? Don’t I always come back? Don’t you know how much I love you?”
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We’re still together. But sitting at opposite ends of the couch though. Not saying much to each other as we go in, out, and about the house. Sharing the same bed, but not touching. Going to church together, but not making eye contact. The honeymoon phase is over. Being together doesn’t give us the tingles anymore.
It’s been some time since we were on the same page. We’ve each made independent decisions that met with disagreement from the other. Some days I wonder exactly who I married. I’m not as attracted as I was at the start. I roll my eyes a lot now. I sigh hard and breathe out troubled subtext until our living space smells of it. One might say our relationship is strained.
When the dissonance between us gets so loud that I can’t stand to be in the same room, I wonder where we went wrong. People said we would always be together. We started off so strong. Couples have said they wanted to be like us. Yet now there’ve been several months though—I don’t know how far back to start counting—when I have not been the happiest in this relationship. It’s not looking so great right now.
But I remember our song:
“In the middle of the madness
When the time is running out and you’re left alone
All I want is you to know that
It’s strong still
Can’t pull us apart
Nothing can come
Nothing can pull us apart… can come between us.”
I don’t know when it officially became our song, but whenever I hear Sade’s “Nothing Can Come Between Us,” I think of Jesus and I. I envision us as a newlywed couple having a first dance in front of so many witnesses. They have sworn to hold us to our vows. He’s the groom; I’m his bride. The contract says “until death do us part,” but even then… Continue reading