He asked me two months ago if I minded if he went; it would mean we wouldn't spend our anniversary together.
It didn't matter to me in the least; I'm married to him not a day, and I knew we'd celebrate sometime close enough for it to count. For him to realize the significance of the date that far in advance was a gift--
* * *
I awakened to the sound of a a distant train's whistle, a kiss on the cheek, and two words.
Light from a cracked-open door cut through morning's murky fog, the one in my darkened room and groggy head. He was already out the door for work.
* * *
He picked up lunch for us on his way out of town, forgetting the sauces I asked for, the chicken nugget equivalent of dry toast. I ate 'em anyway. He saved me 45 calories.
Then he stole my sweet tea and was on his way.
* * *
The baby remembered about four o'clock.
"Oh, yeah, it's your anniversary. Happy anniversary."
No fanfare, a simple acknowledgment.
The middle one remembered about 7:00. His came by way of text.
I replied by telling him I was impressed he remembered and he countered, "I always remember that."
As well he should; it's the reason he's alive.
The oldest one didn't exactly remember, but in a turn of serendipitous timing, a love note arrived from her in the mail. Because this one knows me so well, she pee-pee-essed it by telling me if I shared its contents online, she'd... well, I can't tell you what she'd do, because that's part of the contents and I'm afraid she'd make good her threat.
I think I'm free to admit I smiled, cried, then laughed out loud, all of which she calculated.
* * *
Marriage is complicated.
Marriage is complicated because people are complicated.
You take two different people with very strong personalities, tendencies, natural bents, fuse them together into one whole, and they're still two very different people with very strong personalities, tendencies and bents.
In the beginning opposites attract.
There's no doubt love is blind.
But over time, the oppositeness can make you wonder What in THE world was I thinking?!
Over time, the oppositeness can drive a wedge.
Over time, the oppositeness can wear you out, seed resentment...cause some people to believe leaving is a better option.
All the years have taught me at least one thing:
There's no such thing as greener grass. It might look brighter and better at first, but it'll weather and whither like all the others eventually. Guaranteed.
Over time, that oppositeness is likely making you better. Oppositeness is sandpaper, refining fire, a gritty rub, a shaping heat...effecting change from the outside in.
Oppositeness isn't bad; it's a change agent for your good.
Opposites complete each other, making a well-rounded whole.
* * *
He called on his way home to let me know when to expect him.
He heard it in my voice. A catch. What I hoped was imperceptible hesitation.
Of course, he had no way of knowing, but he caught me in an unguarded moment, a sinking spell, the kind that grips you by the throat and slams you face first into a puddle at the bottom of an endless pit.
That's when he called and I probably shouldn't have answered but I thought I could get through the call without giving it away.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing," I replied.
"What's wrong?" he demanded.
Silence while I shoved the tears back down my throat, "I'm fine...."
"You can't fool me," which obviously, I couldn't, but by now I was winning control of my bloody mutinous emotions, and more evenly I mustered, "I'm okay."
He waved a white flag.
* * *
Twenty-six years is something to celebrate.
Sometimes marriage is butterflies and sunshine, ooey and gooey and can't-get-enoughness, but experience has taught me it's marathon not sprint, and that love is least of all, a feeling.
Love is endurance, determination and commitment. You discover the means to this end by being patient, kind, unselfish and forebearing; and by not being arrogant, envious, insistent, irritable, resentful or rude.
Love usually doesn't happen in a moment, it happens in a life.
And it's how, after 26 years, no matter what has happened between then and now...
I'm sure we were meant for each other.
* * *
Love isn't in the falling. It's in the staying there.