I still do. More than twenty years have passed, and I love my husband as fiercely as the day I said the words. For that, I thank God. Twice. First, because God shows me how to love, and second, because when we follow God, we’re easier to love. Bob is awfully easy to love, I tell you.
I tell students, words are their gift to the world and to themselves. Words, once set down, are a snapshot of the mind. They capture the way we think on a subject, at that moment. I was thinking about Bob and realized I’ve never set down how I feel about him. Tragedy, that. I sometimes take him for granted the way we take air for granted. Air is an apt comparison for his presence in my life because when he’s gone or things aren’t good between us, I feel asphyxiated and I flail around like a desperate tornado until we are good again. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen too often.
Every act of reconciliation begins with humility.
He said that to me as we walked together. That gem has been rolling around in my mind ever since. I should probably have it tattooed to the inside of my eyeballs.
Bob wakes at 4 AM on work days. His first act of selflessness happens before he opens his eyes, as he struggles to shut down the alarm before it wakes his wife who sleeps so lightly, she can hear- with ear plugs- the sounds of breathing, snoring, lightly padding feet, the sound of the toothbrush against teeth or the towel rubbing on a wet body, etc. She even hears imaginary sounds that wake her. Hibernating bears are nicer when they are woken… so he shuts down the sound as fast as his sleep-deprived body will allow, slips out from between the sheets and steals out of the room like a navy seal.
Then, work. I’ve been at the plant where he works as a manufacturing supervisor. It sounds like the inside of a watch, if you could shrink yourself down to the size of an electron. It sounds busy and productive; an alarm constantly blares in the background and multiple smashing and banging car accidents seem to be occurring at regular intervals all over the place. Don’t mistake me; it’s a great job he has, working for a company that espouses Christian values and treats their employees with respect and dignity. But make no mistake: being in that building is taxing for everyone. The people who actually make things in America work very hard.
When he comes home thirteen hours later, he’s often greeted with multiple requests to be judge or principal or taxi driver, to appreciate some Minecraft art or some feat or some dinner or some hairdo… the list goes on and on. The point is, there is no transition. Our boys are extreme athletes: they practice their respective crafts 5+ days a week, which means a ton of sacrifice. On the altar of greatness, sleep is the first sacrifice. There are others. It is worth it. And it’s worth noting that my husband works so very hard to give his family the gift of opportunity. He fixes everything everyone breaks, holds everything that anyone else drops, holds back his tears when everyone else is crying, is the end of the line for strength and godliness, for decisions and their consequences; his is the life that is sacrificed first and foremost for any and every endeavor.
It often goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Except for this moment. In the moment you read this, know I know it. Words are a gift we give to those we love. They are a snapshot of the mind. This picture is me, plumbing what it’s like to be you. Not understanding, but trying.
This moment is one of many times I think of my husband and think how blessed I am. This time I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget.