Life matters, Jan. 13

Published 9:30 am Friday, January 13, 2017

Tickets torn in half

She was excited to show me her ticket.

Each week during the worship service, I have one of the children bring an item that’s special to them. They put it in a “mystery box.” I then let them pull it out, and we talk about it. 

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Kaitlyn’s was a ticket to a University of Kentucky basketball game.

“Oh, so you brought me a ticket to a UK basketball game?” I teased.

It was a torn ticket to a game she had attended with her dad. “My first ever Kentucky basketball game, and I got to go with my daddy,” she beamed.

The University of Kentucky had played Texas A&M, January 3, 2017, and of course the Cats won.

I told Kaitlyn to keep that ticket as a reminder of a special day she had with her dad.

Torn tickets can prompt pleasant memories that themselves are gifts from God.  

I have a torn ticket I keep in a special place. 

It’s to a University of Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M football game, dated November 8, 2003, the day after my birthday.

I had taken my son and daughter back to Oklahoma to see my mom and dad. My first wife, my children’s mom, had died of cancer months before, and for my birthday, Dad had managed to wrangle three tickets to the OU-A&M game. (My daughter had no interest in a football game, preferring to stay with her Meme.) 

It rained through most of the game, but there we stood, Dad, Dave, and I, having the time of our lives.

And of course, OU won.

Revisiting that scene in my mind’s eye, for a split second, I thought I’d call Dad, out of habit, to reminiscence.

But the memory is exclusive to Dave and me now; Dad’s been gone almost three months.

Now, that torn ticket carries with it another gem of a memory for me, for the night before the game, we had gone out to eat, and right there in the restaurant, before my very eyes, was my high school sweetheart, Lori. 

It didn’t take me long to reintroduce myself, and the rest is, as they say, “history.”

Not all torn tickets prompt happy memories, as Danny Yost and the Classics IV crooned, back in 1969: “Tickets torn in half, memories in bits and pieces/Traces of love, long ago, that didn’t work out right.”

Much of moving forward in life means coming to terms with torn tickets — the hard memories and the good ones, and not being held back by the hurtful ones or stuck in middle with the pleasant ones — so that we yet have the courage to receive the possibilities that new adventures open up for us.

You see, that ticket I held in my hand back in Norman, Oklahoma, in 2003, provokes the sweet remembrance of my reintroduction to Lori, only because it also carries within it the memory of another torn ticket lost long ago, along with an unanswered letter, and returned 8-track tapes.

God’s providence has a way of guiding us through the valleys to the peaks on distant horizons, making the mountaintop air smell fresher because we’ve trudged through the staleness below.

I hope Kaitlyn keeps that ticket and the good memory it holds.

For there will be other tickets, torn tickets, for her, for you, and me — some reflecting pain, others joy.

One makes way for another.

That’s life.

Torn tickets and all.