“Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day.”
~ Barbara De Angelis
I’ve been thinking lately about a near miss, something that happened in March that still gives me pause. It started out as a much-needed girls’ weekend at the beach. We’ve taken this trip many times, the girls and I, and went away without worry. We’d left behind our families, homes, and pets on Friday, and came back refreshed and giggled out on Sunday. We gossiped, talking late into the night; we ate too much junk; we drank too much wine (is that possible?); we ate too much chocolate (also impossible). We shopped. We walked. We slept in. We washed dishes, hours after each meal. We sat around in our jammies until 11 am, or later. We broke as many rules as we could, the makings of a great girl’s weekend.
It was great, but it could have turned out a lot differently.
When I leave for the weekend, I always text my husband to let him know I arrived. He does the same when he goes away. Friday evening, March 17, sometime after we arrived at our destination, I texted home. There was no response.
I wasn’t overly worried. I knew he would be out and about, working on our deck and in the garage on other projects. Our daughter had arranged to meet a friend on Saturday, so Bruce was home alone. By Saturday, when I tried to call and could not reach him, I started to worry. Between 10 and 11 a.m., I texted again and called three times. Nothing.
The girls and I were on foot, walking the promenade, peering into shops. It was cold but sunny; so bright, in fact, it was difficult to read our phone screens. The lack of response made us all uneasy. Deb tried to locate the house phone of my neighbor, Richard. She could not find it. It was hard to miss the worried look on their faces. That sick feeling took hold. I felt shaky. My hands became clammy. My mind was racing and I couldn’t focus.
Richard and I are Facebook friends, so I sent him a written message. He didn’t answer.
“Marriage is not what everyone thinks it is. It’s not waking up early every morning to make breakfast and eat together. Its not cuddling in bed together until both of you peacefully fall asleep.
After a few minutes, I noticed the small green dot next to Richard’s name, which, I presumed, indicated he was on Facebook at that moment. I’d never tried to make a call using Facebook. I didn’t know how to use that feature. I pushed the icon. I soon heard a faint, “Hello?”
I said, “Richard, this is Karen, your neighbor.” I paused. There was no response. I later learned he was just as astonished as I was; he’d never used Facebook to make a call and to this day does not know how we both managed to do so.
It’s not a clean home and a homemade meal every day. It’s someone who steals the covers and elbows you in the face. It’s a few harsh words, fights and the silent treatment, it’s wondering if you’ve made the right decision.
It is, despite all of those things, the one thing you look forward to every day.
I told him I was away but had not been able to reach Bruce. I asked if he could go over and take a look around. He said he was on his way. Then I waited. And waited.
It’s coming home to the same person everyday that you know loves and cares about you. It’s laughing about the one time you accidentally did something stupid.
After a long ten minutes, I heard my phone ring. Richard was standing in front of our garage. Our car was gone, but Bruce’s truck was there. My daughter’s car was gone. All of this was what I expected to hear. But, where was Bruce?
I asked Richard to walk around to the back of the garage and look in the window. He would be able to see whether or not the car was inside. He hung up and said he’d call right back.
It’s about eating the cheapest and easiest meal you can make and sitting down together at 10pm to eat because you both had a crazy day. It’s when you have an emotional breakdown and they hold you and tell you everything is going to be okay, and you believe them.
My fear was, since Bruce has Atrial Fibrillation, there had been a heart issue. Worry sent me to the worst possible place: I feared he’d had a stroke and was lying helpless somewhere on our property. When he stood at the back of our garage, Richard called me again and mentioned he could hear very loud music inside. Typical. Bruce cannot function without his “Oldies” and always leaves the radio playing full blast.
It’s about still loving someone even though they make you absolutely insane.
Our car was gone, Richard said. I breathed a sigh of relief. At least that meant Bruce had probably taken off for parts. I next asked Richard if he wouldn’t mind driving to our greenhouses (we have 23 acres and the business end is at the opposite end from the house); he said that was his next stop.
Living with the person you love, is fights about absolutely nothing, but is also having a love that people spend their whole life looking for.
About five minutes later I received two phone calls. Richard dialed me as he pulled into the business driveway after spotting our car. He tells me he’s spotted Bruce with a gorgeous blond. I tell him that’s fine; I’ll kill them both later.
As I finished explaining how I was about to murder two people, my phone rang. Bruce. And, do you know what happened? I was so relieved to hear his voice I could not speak. The tears started flowing and my throat thickened and my chin started shaking.
It’s not perfect and it’s hard, but it’s amazing and comforting and the best thing you’ll ever experience.
We don’t know what happened, but he didn’t receive any of my attempts to reach him until 24 hours later. My texts came in the next day. He wasn’t overly worried when I had not checked in with him; he figured I was having a good time and is not the type to worry (this is very good; it provides the balance given my propensity to fear the worst). It was a scare I hope to never relive. It made me think about a situation I may be in someday, but hopefully not.
And, it got me to thinking about marriage and what we have right here, together. When I read these lines in purple today it struck home and highlighted that imperfectly perfect thing we have here that is difficult, wonderful, hard, lovely, hot, cold, warm and everything in between.
“….it’s amazing and comforting and the best thing you’ll ever experience.”
In my case, I have to agree. Maybe it’s age. Maybe it was getting scared and fearing I’d lost something great. Maybe it was the realization time is limited. I don’t know, but it shook me up and I didn’t like it one bit. I could hardly wait to get home.
Go ahead and share a picture of the person you love and copy and paste this, make their day.”
Now, about that blond….
“In order to achieve anything you must be brave enough to fail.”
~ Kirk Douglas