In The Sky Around Me, Part II (Guilt Trip)

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Here’s how I woke up this morning.  T was standing by my side of the bed, and he leaned down to kiss me.  “You look beautiful laying there, ” he said, and I thanked him.  He went on the tell me that he was leaving to go pick up the week’s groceries.  He had been thinking about painting more on the garage, but decided to get the groceries first.  I thought, awww….what a good and wonderful man he is…followed by HUGE stabs of guilt!

He loves me.  That was a glaring omission from my post last night.  T loves me in his way, just as I love him.  I may not have siblings, but he is as close as I could ever come to having the best brother in the world.  He is my brother/parent/husband.  We grew up together, and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to T.  He has propped me up and cheered me on in his own quiet way.

T and I are like night and day, oil and water, complete opposites.  He is reserved and cautious, while I am out there and impulsive.  He would prefer to be alone, and I like to socialize.  I like to dance.  He likes to sit.  I want to share my thoughts, feelings, and ideas.  I need to share them.  He takes prides in being self-contained.  Yet, we have been married for 26 years.  Something must be working.

What are the odds of divorce these days?  I believe they are over 50%.  Back in 1987 when our daughter Grace died, we were told that our odds of divorce were now doubled.  I remember that day vividly.  Hospital staff took us into a little conference room.  We were given our daughter’s belongings, a little blanket, some stuffed animals, some kind of tiny mouth plate, the flight pin from her helicopter ride to the university hospital, and this proclamation that our marriage was now at risk.

Since that day in 1987, we have lost another child.  Several years later, we sat by Andrew’s bedside as he lay in a coma fighting for his life.  We spent an intense amount of time (years) rehabilitating him from a major brain injury.  Now, we have the sole responsibility of my very ill mother.  We have also had the normal losses along the way, our parents, elderly friends and relatives.   Oh, and did I mention the everyday stress and trauma and drama of just trying to raise four busy, opinionated, challenging, healthy, normal, active children?

I’m not a statistician, but the odds must be pretty bad by now for T and I.  Still, we have stood together through all of it.  At times, we have had our backs to each other, but I have always known that all I needed to do was say, “Hey…” and he would turn around.  I hope he has known the same.

Our marriage is not a fairytale romance.  Ha, not at all!  Sometimes it feels like we are lost together.  We are flung down in the middle of a heap of responsibility.  Sometimes it feels like we have no choice but to trudge through each day’s duties and pray for bedtime to come.  We are a dream team when it comes to parenting and running a household.  We rarely differ when it comes to our standards for rules, raising the kids, or the state of our household.  The kids all laughed the other night when they came home for the evening.  Weekday curfew is 11:00 pm, and I don’t give a damn how old you are.  If you are an adult, then move into your own place!  So, 11:00 pm it is and will remain their weekday curfew.  Those of us who have to pay the bills around here need their rest.  As the kids were heading home that evening, a train was going through town.  At the track crossing were three cars in a line.  They were all related and all heading to the same place, home to the parents with the iron fists.  They came in laughing and talking about how they had each sat there at the tracks laughing that their siblings were also on their way home.  Emily said that her new beau loves telling people about the rules and regs in our household.  She said it complainingly, but also with a sense of pride.

Yes, T and I are great at raising these four wonderful people we brought into this world.  We’re good at dealing with loss.  We are good neighbors with a tidy yard.  We’re good to my mom.  Somewhere along the line, though, we stopped being so good to ourselves and to each other.  Our conversations are kind of like this:

“You good?”

“Yeah, I’m good.  You?”

“Yep.”

“OK.”

“OK.”

That’s our life.  It’s busy and stressful.  We don’t take time to be friends.  We haven’t done that for years.  We are a team.  Our communications are like staff meetings.  We run down the list of pressing issues and then go about our business.  But love?  Yes, there is love.  Underneath all of the duties and daily routine, there is love.  There are shared memories, shared losses, and shared joys.  He knew me when I was younger than our own children.  He knew me before one single wrinkle had touched my face.  He has known me through my innocent years and through years that I never want to live through again.  He has always been there like a steady mountain.  Sometimes that mountain is obscured by clouds, but whenever I need him, he waves those clouds away.

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