forever is composed of nows

We've been married for fifteen years.
He reminds me, often, that I am not the worst things I tell myself about myself.
Together, I know that we are a lot more than the hardest decisions we've ever made.

Eight years ago we sat in a patient conference room while concrete set slowly around our ankles.
I twirled my wedding ring as if it might unscrew my finger. He sat next to me, stone faced, like a fifth head on Mt. Rushmore, speaking in a serrated voice, as if the conversation could end with any sentence. His eyebrows left the spot where eyebrows should go and shifted toward each other; with steel in his eyes he asked only one or two questions. The hands on the clock measured the same second over and over while the neurologist with a slinky for a backbone and the soul of a rented opossum tried to respond. But the only one that mattered had already been answered.

Celia's absence underlines our family's fortune. We’ve learned what it’s like to leverage hope against fear, to have more babies. Together our desire to raise children was just a little stronger than our doubt. Thank god.

He is a much better father than I expected him to be. And I expected him to be a really good one.
He is the kind of father who cares less about grades on a report card and more about teaching the boys how to unload the dishwasher. He worries less about trophies on the mantel and more about kindness on the playground.

Recently his mom mailed the boys pictures of little Andy doing things that they enjoy doing at about the same age - fishing and playing baseball.
I really love these photographs. They remind me that he existed in the world before he came into mine.

Earlier this week we spent the better part of a day in the new yard, moving flagstone and foundation rocks, digging holes and cementing posts for the boys' tree house.
I am strong and capable, but I can't say that I've stacked rocks on pallets before. Andy grinned at my effort and then shifted the expertise outside of our dyad: “They say the best way to create a stable pile is to stagger the seams” he instructed, rather than, “This is how I’ve been doing it successfully for twenty five years.” 

He does the same thing with the boys, building their confidence with positive praise and gentle guidance. He talks to them about chemical changes and congressional lines, listens to terrible jokes and mind-numbing tales, teaches them how to make good decisions even when it's hard to feel proud of some of our own. He is a calm co-pilot and forever their parachute.
We've been married for fifteen years. Most of my words have about a two second half life in his head.
Move the clothes to the dryer if you have a minute. 
Do you mind changing the lightbulb in the hall? 
Help me remember to send snacks to school tomorrow! 
But those things aren’t really important anyway. Maybe I should put the important ones on the mirror where he brushes his teeth, maybe I should voice record them on his phone, say them out loud more often, post them here.
I love you. 
You are the boys' favorite person on earth. 
Thank you for doing so much.
Till death do us part.


Poppy John said...

Happy Anniversary!
If we had bet on an "over/under" when you two were married, I'd have taken the "over"...no matter how high it was.


Kristy G said...

Happy Anniversary to one rad couple! Your love and effort and patience inspires.

Kathryn said...

I've heard that marriage should be a 50/50 collaboration......but that's not true. Sometimes it's 40/60 or 10/90 or 100/0 or any other fractional combination. The important thing is that you never keep track. Instead, each partner gives and shares and supports and listens and crys and laughs as the moment calls for. You two seem to be shining examples of that. Happy Anniversary. K

rht said...

May you continue to love each other through all the nows!

Susan Kadlac said...

What a beautiful tribute to Andy and your marriage!! May you always be as strong together as the foundation for the boys' tree house!! Happy Anniversary!!

Mike Smith said...

happy anniversary and many more. god bless