Friday, November 14, 2014

I love you

I tell my husband every day that I love him.

I won't lie; I've gotten really angry with my husband. And annoyed. And frustrated. But even then, I still love him, even when I didn't like him very much at that moment. Love is a verb, an action, not a fleeting feeling; it is hard work building together and an opening in your emotional defenses, both making of the two of you into one.

I don't stay mad for very long, though there can be a residual grumpy. For one, it's almost always a miscommunication. Sometimes it's cultural, South African vs. American. Sometimes it's just not communicating our wants and needs and expectations clearly enough, or our limitations, restrictions, and commitments. After enough miscommunications, the ability to realize "this is probably just another miscommunication. We'll cool down, figure it out, and then be laughing and back to normal in a little while" is enough to head off the storm of hurting and shouted words before it blows up.

But there's another reason why I can't stay mad at my husband. It's the same reason I tell him I love him every day, and send him random little notes saying so from work, or the road, or the grocery store.

He's already buried many, many people he cared for, after 18 years of civil war. Some went easy, some went hard, some went in despair, and very few of old age. I, too, have lost far too many people I cared for, laughed with, fought over who'd get to pay the bill and took random road trips and flights with. I've landed the plane and sat and shook for a while, knowing that training and G-d's own grace were the only things that just kept me from joining them. It's getting harder to fly, now that every time I walk out to the plane, a little voice whispers in my ear that this could be my last flight.

I've already lost Peter once, before we even married, to a heart attack. They cracked open his chest and patched everything up, but the patches aren't guaranteed to hold forever. In fact, they're not even guaranteed twenty years.

I can't take him for granted. I don't have enough time. I can lie awake some nights, and already see the empty side of the bed in my future, if a car crash or the airplane doesn't get me first. There's no way to know the date marked on the calendar, but it's coming closer every day, every hour. When that moment comes, there'll be no more chances, no more shared laughter, no new memories to make, no more us....

So he went and bought a new gun or three while I was at work? Cool, he'll enjoy it. So he's decided he wants to change all our plans? It'll work out. So he wants to eat out tonight, instead of cooking like he said he would... would I rather have memories of arguments and nagging, or of a happy husband? Is he looking frustrated at the housework, because his body betrayed him? Eh, I'll just do it so he doesn't have to worry. Is he bored? Let's ditch the standard night in and go on a road trip!

G-d may grant me twenty more years (please, G-d, make it fifty? I know that's asking for a miracle, but I love him), or twenty more minutes. I can't afford to waste the time it takes to grow emotionally distant and then reconcile, or even to stay angry. Here, now, this is all I've got, and dwelling on should-have-done or I-wanted-instead loses precious time we'll never get back.

What caliber for the Grim Reaper? Because I'll fight for this man. And every day, he will know that he is loved.

9 comments:

Cedar said...

Dang, Dorothy... now I'm all misty. Yes, this, a million times this. I don't know how long I'll have him, so I love him extra hard right now, here, in the moment.

David Pascoe said...

Yeah, definitely something raising the dust in here ...

Rev. Paul said...

As a minister & former pastor, allow me to say that's the most stirring description of what love should be that I've ever heard or read - anywhere.

May God grant your prayer!

Morris said...

Peter is a very lucky man. May the Lord indeed grant you that extra time..

tom said...

It's misty in my house.

Brigid said...

That is an absolutely stunning testament to both the man and the power of love.

My husband and I discuss the same thing as well, but it is I that's 25 years older, not the other way around, like you two. I tell him to be strong, and to go on if I leave first, even as I have to explain what the Aerosmith lyrics "can't catch me cuz the rabbit done died" actually meant.

For you two, who together, married us and stood up for us, as well as for ourselves, we will raise a toast tonight to another 50 years.

Peter is a very lucky man, as are we all, your friends.

Old NFO said...

Well said lady. And Peter knows how lucky he is to have you!

Jennifer said...

I'm so glad you found each other and can share real love for however much time is allotted. Here's hoping for there to always be more.

Evyl Robot Michael said...

Very nicely put. Even as we are mid-30s, in good health, and exactly two months apart, you just never know when He will call you or your spouse home. I think seizing the moment to love is extremely wise.