I love you
By Brenda Roever
“I love you,” he whispered gently into my ear.
What’s a young girl to do? I slapped his pimpled face and
forcefully said, “Don’t ever say that to me again until you mean it.” He was
15, and I was 13. I was mature enough to know a 15-year-old didn’t understand
the meaning of love. Apparently, I was wrong. Our relationship blossomed, and
five years later we were married.
The Vietnam War was raging in 1968. The Tet Offensive had
taken the lives of many Americans and Vietnamese. I thought we were safely
hidden from the draft behind a college exemption, but Uncle Sam found us and
insisted upon the service of my new husband. I never considered that honor
would demand his joining up to fight for this nation and for the liberty of the
January of the following year Dave reported for duty and was
assigned to the U.S. Navy Special Forces as a riverboat gunner in the elite
Brown Water Black Berets. He and his companions would patrol the rivers in the
treacherous Mekong Delta.
July brought the news every military wife fears. Dave had
The Navy captain knocked on my door, placing a telegram in
my hands, “… severe blast damage to the face, arms and trunk … third degree
burns over 30 percent of his body … critically injured.” It was a death
sentence, and I knew my husband’s survival required a miracle.
Dave was transported from a field hospital west of Saigon to
Japan. For eight grueling days he struggled for life. After stabilizing, he was
medevaced to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, the finest burn
center in the world.
A gurney carried my love into 14 months of hospitalization,
countless surgeries and a life of suffering. Back then, there were no private
rooms for the critically injured. Seriously wounded soldiers writhing in pain
lined the walls of a common ward. Walking the halls of the tormented, I
searched for my handsome young prince.
What I found broke the heart of this young bride. Dave’s
body was horrifically swollen, his head to the width of his shoulders, with no
hair and only one ear. From the waist up he was black from the burns and
covered with a milky-white medication that could not hide the huge chunks of
missing flesh. His charred body was almost unrecognizable and oozed with corruption.
Surely, this could not be the man I had married two years earlier.
Surveying the mutilated face, I gently kissed what was left
of parched lips and peered through his sky-blue eyes into the depth of his
“Welcome home, Davey. I love you.”
Love is commitment — for richer, for poorer, for
better, for worse, in sickness and in health till death do us part. I did not
marry Dave Roever because he was the most handsome man I had ever seen or
because he had the strongest body. I married him because he was gentle and
kind. He was patient and longsuffering. He was loyal and a faithful friend. Our
commitment of fidelity could not be broken, though the flames of hell tried.
Since his injury we have traveled the world sharing the
story of an overcoming faith and an uncompromising love to those in need of
encouragement and a compassionate touch from our Heavenly Father. From high
school gymnasiums to the White House, from the steamy jungles of Vietnam in
missionary endeavors to touring with the military on the battlefields of Iraq,
across the airwaves of radio and television, and printed in countless magazines
and books, our love story has been a statement to the world of devotion and
God’s intervention in human affairs.
For more than 40 years Dave has whispered gently into my
ear, “I love you.” What’s a girl to do? I kiss his wrinkled and scarred face,
rejoicing in our commitment to each other and respond accordingly, “I love you,
BRENDA ROEVER ministers internationally with husband Dave
Roever through Dave Roever Evangelistic Association. For more information,
E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.