"The most precious gift that marriage gave me was the constant impact of something very close and intimate, yet all the time unmistakably other."~C.S. Lewis
I must have walked four miles in the rain. I hadn't been out in a while--battling an infection and just trying to hold my own at work. My life felt as if the margins were much too thin--hardly room to jot a few notes on the sides of the page. The soaking rain pelted my skin and was like God Himself refreshing me with His Spirit. With each step, I seemed to get a little more clarity, a little more breathing room, my margins increasing.
And when I walk I often am able to let my mind go where it leads me. I thought of the book my sister had given me: A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas. Ms. Thomas writes a memoir of her marriage that was interrupted and changed when her husband was involved in an accident that left him with no short or long-term memory. He was permanently disabled and had to live in assisted living. The author tells her story of coming to terms with the changes in her husband--accepting him and living with the disability while simultaneously living her own life in a good and joy-filled fashion. Her three dogs helped ease the grief and provided comfort and companionship while she forged a way to live with the unexpected and sad event.
I wondered if I could apply some of the author's coping in my own marriage. While my husband and I had started out with such romance, finding each other again after twenty-five years (Read An Ocean Away under books for full details), we recently have struggled to connect. Just last week we had a yelling match to rival any reality TV show. We were fighting about home maintenance issues--a rash of inept service providers for home repair and insurance had left us frustrated and raw. Both of us were having health issues and stressors from work created the quintessential cherry on top of the toxic marital sundae. As I walked I thought of all sorts of things I could say to my husband to make salient points about how I felt and what he could do differently. But then I figured he could say the same thing to me. I thought what if I pretended that neither of us had any short or long-term memory, and we just started being nice to each other. I can't control what my husband chooses to do, but I can decide what I do or don't do.
I completed my walk, wet to the bone and invigorated. I showered and spritzed on some Chanel cologne, wore some bright lipstick and cheerily told my husband I'd go to Lowe's with him. I grabbed his hand as we walked into the giant store, the smell of fresh-cut lumber assailing our nostrils. My darling husband began to whistle. Just for today we could enjoy being together, without expectations--the grace of God a banner over our hearts.
Ms. Thomas ends her memoir with this conversation between her and now late husband, Rich:
I ask Rich if he knows how long we've been married.
"About a year," he answers.
I shake my head. "Seventeen years," I say, "we got married in 1988 and it's 2005."
"Abby" he says, smiling, "our life has been so easy that the days glide by."