I stand at the window and watch her guide him into the van.
A few months ago he had a stroke and I remember watching her run toward the door with a mournful and anguished wail trailing behind her.
Our neighbors, in their late 50′s; married for years, I imagine, with all the struggles and love of marriage. And now a profound expression of this interwoven struggle and love.
An expression of love that reminds me what a blessing it is to have someone to share your life with that would see you through the inevitable curveballs of a life lived.
I tear up every time she helps him into the van and closes the door behind him, like a child.
A layer of love not yet traversed before. And this layer is so deep.
I know I’ve wrote of love here many times before; yet, there always seems more to say.
It seems love has been the greatest growth of my life.
I met him so young and followed a love that intuition had the reigns of.
It wasn’t lust and it wasn’t immature.
When we made the decision to marry just months after we met, at 18, I didn’t really understand what that would look like long term.
Thankfully he did, or I would have given up far too many times.
For years I looked for ways out. Not because love wasn’t there. But because things were hard.
No one told me marriage was hard. Of course the examples in my life weren’t sugar coated, with the edges of life buffed smooth, but you don’t really see the truth of what marriage means when you’re that young. Somehow you think it’s just those examples.
Of course, love itself isn’t hard. What is hard is navigating the world with our egos and attachments, our ideals and our burdens.
Marriage is hard. Really effing hard.
Love is easy, love is whole, love is always there. It’s the hardening of our hearts and the upkeep of our life and the disappointments of our expectations that stop the flow of love like a kink in a water hose.
What a tremendous act of faith, love, and commitment to say I will share this life with you through it all.
I guess those vows, “through thick an thin, through sickness and health…” are really meant for something.
Funny thing is, we didn’t even share vows. It was as simple as a heart understanding that the love we had was so real.
Love is like the beautiful and bright, fresh colors of paint. And marriage is sometimes like mixing them all together until it appears like mud.
As two fiery souls we have had our fair share of uncontrolled flames.
As two passionate people we literally have wrestling/snuggle/tender biting/laughing fests to calm the chaos of our tremendous love.
Over the years there has been laughter until loss of breath, tears until dehydration, and screams until weakness.
I remember the youthfulness of our love. Me with my hip hanging low pants, half shirt, flat belly, wild red hair, and a cigarette or doobie between my fingers. Him with his plaid shirt, khaki pants, loafer shoes, and cool presence of refusing to be cool.
I remember stenciling on his bum with permanent marker. I remember the joy of running through the college campus in the rain.
I remember the awe I felt that he hadn’t been tainted by the pull of teenage wild expression.
I remember his acceptance of my wild self, even though we were entirely different in how we lived our lives.
I remember not being able to go to sleep without climbing on top of him, cornering his neck with my face, and drifting off in the presence of deep love. I remember how uncomfortable this made him, but how he allowed it anyway.
It seemed like no time before there were kids cornering our necks with their faces, and we were dancing the role of parenthood. Where we were navigating the unconceivable love you hold for your family, the baggage of the past that dumps its shit when you become a parent, and the pressure of the roles you become as you move from one-to-two-to-family.
Marriage is a smaller expression of life itself. A journey with growing pains along the way that are meant to shave away the nonessential so you can find more of what really matters.
But if you make it, if you don’t give up, if you let yourself be humbled and led by the love that lives beneath than you will reach a love that is so profound. A love I cannot find words for.
It’s like adding fresh squirts and coats of beautiful, bright, and fresh paint to your love again.
It’s recommitting to each other over and over again, as you become the next versions of yourself.
It’s the greatest act of vulnerability.
It is a love so unlike the unconditional love of being a mother. It is love that involves choice.
That is magic.
With a heart full of love,