Putting Up with Each Other –
Today is my wife Beth and my anniversary. 28 years to be exact. There are days it seems like only yesterday we said; “I do’s” and others where I wonder; “what happened to those 19-year-old kids? What were they thinking? Were they thinking? Did they understand the journey they were about to embark on?”
I told Beth today; “I don’t know how you put up with me.” Some husbands and wives jest in this way but Beth knows how serious I am. Reflecting on that day 28 years ago, a hot June day in 1990 when we met at the church to say our vows to each other there is a realization I am not the person she married. Somehow Beth has grown into an even more beautiful woman inside and out. People love to be around her. Her personality is infectious. Her smile draws people to her and her spirit makes them feel welcome and loved. She is, by far, the better half.
This other half has walked a long, hard part of the journey these last several years. The struggle with, diagnosing of and living with severe chronic depression and severe anxiety have taken their toll in certain areas of my life. However, I have been blessed with a partner who meant it when she said; “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.” I could not ask for nor deserve her love, patience, perseverance. I tell her this regularly and she reminds me she’s far from perfect.
“We’ll stay on this road together’ she says, ‘putting up with each other.” Sounds good to me.
This past weekend my wife and I were going to do some needed cleaning. However, as the weekend wore on we both discovered motivation was lacking. I told her I would vacuüm the house one day this week and today was it. I began with a simple vacuüm across the floors but then noticed there were dust bunnies under a piece of furniture. I grabbed the broom and swept up the dirt only to discover there was more than I thought. Getting down on my hands and knees I swept all the way back and to the sides. There wasn’t a dust bunny it was more like a family of rabbits. I then began to do this to all the furniture and; “Wow!” The vacuuming chore took more time than I anticipated because of the extra work required. Real cleaning is a whole other level of commitment.
As I swept up all the little furballs and removed and returned furniture back to its original place I reflected on the need to deep clean our minds and spirits. It’s not too difficult to do a quick surface sweep but to get down to the hidden dirt and grime that reside in the dark places we must be willing to be uncomfortable and humble.
I think I’m in love with the electric-heated fleece throw my wife bought me for Christmas. It is wonderful! Especially when it is cold outside like this week has been. Instead of putting over me I’ve tucked it in and around the place I sit on the couch. I come home, turn it on, throw a blanket on top, change and by the time I’m ready to sit down the blanket is warm. It’s like sinking into a soft cocoon of heat. The room and house don’t feel as cold when I am wrapped in the throw.
There are also people and places who make us feel this way. There’s something about their presence which makes us feel good and safe. I’m not a hugger but I love getting hugs from my wife. She’s the type of person who portrays warmth and acceptance. My aunt Evon, who passed away several years ago, was the same way.
In a world which seems to be increasingly divided, we need more warmth, more acceptance, more love. Our crazy mixed up world thinks there are other ways to heal the divisions, start over, bring peace. Truly, only love has that power. It takes more courage to love someone than to hate them, let go of prejudices than keep them, listen and build relationships instead of keeping everyone who disagrees with us at arm’s length.
Warmth. On a cold day in December, it’s a needed and comforting thought.
I texted a deceased person today. I intended to text the person I just didn’t know he had passed away on Sunday evening.
On my way to a community meeting this morning I drove through a small town and read on a local business sign; “R.I.P. Jim Smith.“* It took me a moment, the name sounded familiar, and then I recognized it as a name of one of the fathers in our program. The next second it dawned on me he had also once worked at the business with the sign. I called someone who knew the father and he confirmed that; “Yes, he was in a car accident over the weekend and lost his life.” It became even more shocking when I realized I’d texted the deceased father a couple of hours earlier. I was doing my routine check-in with him and many of the other dads our program works with to see how their week was going. Jim* was an engaged father, in his early 20’s, with one infant daughter he adored. He worked full-time, went to school and loved his wife and family.
After the confirmation of his passing everything else melted away. I prayed for his family but truly cannot imagine the hurt, doubt and confusion they are experiencing. At lunch I talked with Beth and told her about the dad. She then said she had spoken with a wife this morning, whose husband had recently taken his own life, after a long battle with alcohol. Death, it seems, is making it’s presence known this Tuesday. We both told each other; “I love you very much!” as we ended the conversation.
We are but candles swiftly extinguished. The light of our lives burn brightly and quickly dim. There is no tomorrow, no guarantee of another breath, moment or chance to let those we care for, appreciate and love know how much they mean to us.
*names have been changed to protect confidentiality