This Saturday my husband and I will attend a memorial service for a man we worked with earlier in our careers. He was forty seven.
In the last five years five young men we worked with at that same company have passed away. Some from disease, others from sudden fatal accidents. With the exception of one, all men had children. Some as young as two or three years old. They left behind spouses, parents and colleagues who cared for them deeply.
Without exception all five men were great guys. Kind, hard working, decent men.
Why don’t the assholes die?
Have you ever noticed what happens when a young person passes away traumatically. If the media is involved they interview their friends and family. The reaction is typically predictable? “They were always smiling and happy. Everyone liked them.” Have you ever heard anybody say “Ya, he was a total jerk. Mean to everybody he encountered.”
Happy pictures are shown. Happier times are remembered. Making it all the more devastating.
Why don’t the assholes die?
Now when I say as assholes I don’t mean the guy who cut you off getting onto the highway this morning. Or the woman who didn’t pick up her dogs business at the park yesterday. Not even the boss who fired you just because he thought that he could get some young hot shot to fill the position you’ve given your heart and soul to for five years.
I’m talking about those people in your life that give you consistent aggravation. Ones that go out of their way to make your life more difficult simply because they can.
Why don’t those assholes die?
The five men that have died in the past five years were not that person. They were funny redheaded goofballs. They were gentle hockey loving fathers. They were guys who always “knew a guy” who could help you out. They were wizards with Christmas lights and skateboard ramps. They were work colleagues who boosted you up instead of climbing over you.
They weren’t assholes. And yet they died.
Is it possible that after fifty years I have finally figured out what love really looks and feels like? I mean, really feels like. Deep in your heart and soul. It’s not that my life has been without love for that long but until recently I don’t think that I really understood love. How powerful it can be and how it can complete your life and bring you contentment and peace. I have been happily married for almost fourteen years but in the last couple of years I think that I have finally accepted how great love can be.
When I met my husband I had only been separated from my ex husband for 10 months. I had some trust issues you could say. I had pretty much sworn off men but my co-worker was convinced that I needed a date. She even went so far as to list all the single attractive men that worked for our company. I hate to say it but I said “no way” to her suggestion of the man who is now my husband. He was eight years younger than me and well, did I mention that I had sworn off men. As a new mom I just wanted to try to enjoy the few moments I had to myself outside of parenting and work. Yet somehow, on a company road trip to Seattle to see a basketball game, I found myself drawn to this man. And once the connection was made a couple of months later, there was no turning back. I knew right away that I would spend the rest of my life with him. So much for swearing off men.
There was a moment very early in our relationship when I knew I could fall in love with my husband. It was just before Christmas. We had been trading emails and chatting a bit at work. I must have mentioned the fact that I had lost all of my Christmas tree ornaments in the divorce and had a tiny little Charlie Brown tree with only a couple of sad ornaments on it. I walked past his office one day and he called me in. On his desk was a gift wrapped box. Inside were four beautiful dark green glass ornaments and matching green and gold bowls. I was so touched that he not only remembered but had been so thoughtful. My divorce had left me in a fairly fragile state and this simple gesture restored my faith and put me on the road to learning about real love. Every year I take them out and tell my kids this story while we decorate the tree. My seven-year old thinks it’s romantic. My eighteen year old just rolls his eyes and sighs.
The journey from then until now has not always been an easy one. We have been separated for long periods of time due to work. We have had differences of opinions MANY times. We have co-parented with a sometimes difficult ex husband. We have made the decision to not have any more children and then changed our minds and embraced our little fireball. We have struggled through self employment and all that it entails. We have fallen down and learnt how to get back up. We (I) have given up trying to control the direction my life and the life of my family takes. We have cried and raised our voices and gone to bed angry. Yet somehow we are still married and in love.
The reality is that I love him more now than I did on the day we got married. I know him better. And he knows me better. He has taught me so many things. Because of him I am more open to love and kindness. A combination of the way I was raised and a bad first marriage left me closed up and afraid to get hurt. Did you know that you can be angry with somebody and then let it go and move on? I didn’t. I believed that if somebody did something to make you angry that you stayed angry at them. For a long time. Who knew that letting go of anger so quickly was so easy. I also didn’t know (or believe) that if I had done something to make somebody angry that they could forgive me and still love me. On the same day even. Again, I believed that forgiving and moving on took days. If it happened at all. But I now know that this is what love really looks like. The security of knowing that you can screw up and the sky won’t fall on your head. This is what my husband has taught me.
A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other. The Best Thing in Life is that over the years he refused to give up on me and I refused to give up on him. So, don’t just look for love. Look for real inconvenient, ridiculous, can’t live without you love. Because that’s the love that you deserve. And don’t give up. It may take years to fully embrace, but it is most definitely worth it.