Sometimes, late at night, in the wee hours when my racing mind kicks me wide awake during hours no human being should be conscious, I lie in bed with my eyes closed and can actually hear the steady breathing (or unsteady snoring, depends on the night) of the person next to me and think to myself.
God, I love this man.
I love his smile, but his laugh makes me melt. I love that we’ve been together for so long that when he looks at me across a room I randomly laugh out loud because I know exactly – exactly – what he is thinking about the blonde talking his ear off (and believe me, it’s not what SHE thinks he’s thinking). I love the way he shows me that he loves me, with folded laundry and cooked dinner and paid bills and happy kids, with held hands and “how was your day” and a hundred other things that you don’t think about until you don’t have them any more because you are young and growing up and figuring it out and maybe it’s not exactly the way you thought it should be.
God, though, how I love that laugh.
Then I open my eyes and realize that he is gone, and I am alone.
Despite the fact that I spent the latter half of my teen years waiting for Jake to show up in his red Porsche so we could eat birthday cake on his dining room table after he retrieved my underwear from a geek, I am not a terribly romantic person. Relationships and – gasp – marriage – was the stuff of fairy tales, the Disney kind with pretty princesses and handsome princes and love at first sight and perfect endings. It all seemed a little much and vaguely unrealistic. [How many people do you know who live in an actual castle (mcMansions don’t count)?]
But then you grow up and fall in love for the first time. Probably you had your heart broken once or twice, maybe you swore off it off? I know when I met my husband it was the last thing on my mind. But we fell in like, and in short progression, love. So we decided to get married because that was what you were supposed to do. Handsome prince, reasonably pretty bride, happy ending, right? I was converted. I got my fairy tale.
If you are married (or ever were), you know that there’s a reason those fairy tales end with someone carried away into the sunset. Who the hell wants to watch Chapter 2, when Cinderella and Prince Charming argue about who is more tired because they worked more hours last week or why the dishwasher hasn’t been emptied in three days but the sink is full of dirty dishes or whose turn it is to make dinner or vacuum or mow the lawn or pick up the kids or whether the tramp next door has a glass slipper in her closet? That’s all just a little too real.
(Plus the laundry. God…just. The laundry).
My marriage was a good one. I loved my husband, I love him still. I know he loved me. When he died I felt like I had been hollowed out; I spent years going through the motions of living. I still miss him. Every. Day. But the truth is that also that we struggled, sometimes a lot and for long stretches at a time with the day-to-day bullshit that can completely and utterly take over your lives. The irony is that what losing him taught me about love.
Love lives in the little things. Nothing says I love you like an empty sink, folded clothes, a mowed lawn, a day of golf. I don’t spend a lot of time wishing away what I cannot change…but I wish I had worried less about the scorecard in my mind and recognized this sooner.
Laughter is the best medicine. Really. Do it a lot. Especially at your own Chaos.
Love is patient and kind and a lot of other things St. Paul told us (too bad he couldn’t sell the future rights to that passage), but relationships are not always those things. Give yourself a break. Difficult times in a relationship, including those that don’t end up working out, are not a reflection of your ability to love.
Because here’s the thing; I know it’s corny, but the number one thing I’ve learned? Love is infinite. Really. It is. You can – and should – choose to redirect love from people who are not worthy of you, but your ability to love, your capacity to love, is infinite. You don’t run out of that shit.
I know it’s scary, but give it freely. Say it often.
Because if the last thing you ever say to someone is “I love you”, you will never be sorry.
Sometimes, late at night, in the wee hours when my racing mind kicks me wide awake during hours no human being should be conscious, I lie in bed with my eyes closed and can hear the steady breathing of the person sleeping next to me and think to myself.
God, I love this man.
I love his smile, his easy laugh and the way he can make friends with pretty much anyone in the room. Any room. Anywhere. I love his honesty, even when I might not like it. I love it when he has a good day at work and I can hear him singing as he gets out of his car all the way into the house and he literally pulls me into his arms and dances me around the kitchen. Just to make me smile. I love his big heart and his quick mind and the way he looks at the world. I love that he is an amazing Dad to his kids while we figure out what a blended family means to us. I love space for guys’ weekends and girls’ nights. Yes, I love empty sinks and folded laundry and clean houses but I also love friendship and companionship and trust and hard work.
Every day when I come home from work I see the family portrait of the six of us in 2008. My husband is beaming as he rests his hands on the shoulders of his first born son. The smiles on his face and his children’s faces say everything you need to know about what kind of Dad he was. Our loss is still staggering in its scope. But I am so blessed to have known and loved him for 20 years. I am thankful for everything I learned from him about life and love.
And yes, it’s not even in the same universe of where I thought I’d be, or wanted to be on that night in January 25 years ago. Our Chaos is complicated and sometimes incredibly difficult. But I am blessed with love…and for the amazing man who insisted on hanging the picture in our foyer three months ago.
Love believes all things, hopes all things, dreams all things.
Love is infinite.