Monday, December 26, 2016

SMART, BEAUTIFUL & DIFFICULT

Stuck to a magnet on the door of the garage fridge is a small laminated paper that says LUNCH. My solution to a recurring problem. I slapped the magnet on Jim’s car door at night when I put his lunch in the fridge so that the next morning he’d take it off, turn around, and go back to the fridge to get the lunch he invariably walked past on the way to his truck. I made him fancy salads and tart, tart vinaigrettes. And yeah, once or twice I may have included carrots and radishes cut out in the shape of hearts

If he didn’t get all the way to work before remembering he forgot the lunch he’d turn around and drive home to get it. “I could have brought it to you!” I’d tell him. “How else will I learn?” he’d reply.

He wanted to eat healthier. I wanted him to eat healthier. He didn’t have time to figure it out. I did. “But more than that,” I told him, “I love making your lunches because at 11:30AM every day you are certain that I love you.” The care I put into that food couldn’t spell it out more clearly.

I’ve said here before that my mom often told us that you love those you serve. I kept that in mind in my marriage. I trusted that the more I did for Jim the more I’d love him and the more I loved him the happier I’d be. Listen, I failed in my first marriage. I’ve never been shy about taking responsibility for my part in a marriage that was weak enough to snap. I didn’t make time or care, and I’m not sad it broke; it got me Jim and his family. Fresh out of a failed marriage though, there were some things I knew I wanted to do differently to make this one work.

The euphoria I felt from the love Jim and I had was enough to overpower inconveniences. So he forgot his lunch, his glasses, his computer, his charger and I’d have to restructure my day to get it to him? So what? It meant I got to see him. And if I didn’t get to see him it meant I got to leave a love Post-it. So he left his shoes at the bottom of the stairs? First, they’re darling, second, it was an uncommon occurrence, and third, if I put them away that’s one less thing for him to do when he got home from work. I’m grateful that even when he was alive I knew that seconds saved doing stuff for him were seconds I could use to enjoy him instead. Think of it as selfish. What I wanted was to be happy. Doing a good job loving Jim made me happy. So doing the things that could enhance the love and increase our time together would get me what I wanted. Simple, simple.

I am not saying I was the perfect wife. Gosh, no. The other morning I finally read through the last few months of our text messages. It was mostly logistics and me whining about stuff. Yes, there is lots of “love you baby” and “miss you” and “can’t wait to see you” and even a “hey hotpants,” but there are also boatloads of me being a pain in the ass.

But that’s part of it.

For one of Jim’s business groups he had to put together a list of the 10 things that are most important to him. In reading it to me he listed “My Family” and named all the kids and his mom and sisters and then moved onto the next item. “Hey,” I interrupted, “I want to be on that list!” “Hold on—” He got through a few more things and then read, “My Wife. I think she is smart, beautiful, and difficult.”
(from early June this year)
The love was worth it. It was worth inconveniencing myself to accommodate him. It was worth him putting up with how difficult I can be. I’m not naive to the fact that we didn’t get to do that for nearly as long as we would have liked and so we didn’t have 25 years to see if our patterns were sustainable. We also had the benefit of starting over together in second marriages. But I’d like to think that rather than us not having time to see if the ardor would fizzle, his death took the time we would have used to continue the work of perfecting Us.

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