Oh, how I miss that man. And it's not just that I'd love an extra set of hands to help staunch the incessant flow of my children's various bodily excretions, either. I just miss HIM. He's my best friend, plain and simple. I knew that, and I knew HIM, when I married him, but as time has gone by, (and this will sound trite, I know, but it's really real), and as we've lived our lives and weathered our (smallish doses of, I'll admit) hardships together, I've grown to love him so much more deeply. And to know him so well that it surprises even me.
An example: Yesterday I started working on Shrimp Creole to have for dinner right at about lunchtime. Because I know that in order to have even the simplest dinner ready AND tend to the many needs of my sick babies I've got to get started about 7 hours in advance. And I worked on that dish all day long, off and on, until bathtime for the kiddos. All I had left to do was toss in the shrimp and let 'em cook and we'd have been golden. But after bathtime came bedtime for Peabody, and of course, being sick and all, he's regressed in age by about a month, and so would not be soothed or consoled long enough to fall asleep in his crib. So bedtime stretched well into the Final Dinner Prep time slot and I was finally stumbling back down to the kitchen having made a shaky peace with Peabody just as Al walked in the door.
I took one look at that man's face and read, "Not a Shrimp Creole night. This would be a soup and PBJ night."
And I wordlessly packaged up my Shrimpless Creole, stuck it in the fridge, and pulled out my 10 pound can of Creamy Jif.
(We eat a little peanut butter around here.)
As we sat over dinner, quietly eating, both feeling sick and exhausted but inexplicably cozy, I said, "I'd planned shrimp creole for dinner but I just couldn't quite pull it off."
"Mmmm. Shrimp Creole."
"Yeah. Mmmmm. But not tonight mmmm..."
"Nope. Tonight was made for soup and sandwiches."
Yes, it was.
It was made for just that, honey.
AND BLESS YOUR LOVEABLE, SICK LITTLE HEART FOR SAYING SO.
We'll celebrate our fifth anniversary in December, my sweet, funny husband and I. It doesn't sound like much to a veteran married person, but to me, it's a milestone I've pined to reach and break through, and I've been keenly aware of its approach for more than 18 months. My first marriage ended in its fifth year, and for all the loving and the healing and the forgiving of myself I've done in the years since then, there's been an ache and a tiny lingering doubt inside me, that maybe I'd not be able to sustain a marriage beyond that point, in my own heart, no matter who my partner might be.
And with a cross-country move, a tough pregnancy, two major job changes and a brand new baby added to the mix, these past couple of years have presented us with extra challenges and friction and have pulled at our seams, no doubt.
But when I looked up and over my PBJ and my bowl of canned soup at Al last night, I saw my forever future. Oh, we're not perfect. And we're not the flashy, sexy, spontaneous couple we were when we first started dating. We've given up several of our shared dreams (at least for now), made some life-altering decisions and argued hotly until I thought we'd both crumble into smoldering cinders since we married. We've both shown our very worst to one another on several occasions.
What I know, as November turns into December and we quietly celebrate five years of marriage, of real life, together, is that the ache and the doubt I've had about myself and my ability to stay committed and true and in love have vanished.
We're the real deal, Al and me. I'm in this one for good, and knowing that feels like coming home, to me.