Last weekend Danny was talking about an article he read that suggested the 5 people closest to you will be the largest influences on your personality. From these 5 you can acquire hobbies, mannerisms, perspectives, beliefs – they will mold who you become. We interrupted it to be some sort of osmosis affect and wondered what things have we rubbed off on each other. As I thought about the post I wanted to write honoring both our seven years married and my third year of blogging, I realized that Danny’s relates to real life through movies he has watched, music he has listened to, or something he has read – and in some ways it has become a part of my world analysis too.
This year we have faced a lot of different aspects of marriage. We were tested in obvious ways – hello transplant – and shocked with unknown ways – navigating life post transplant. There were moments that were vey dark, but the moments of light after have been so overwhelming too – life feels completely new. When I reflect on it my mind wanders back to the movie “Wish I was Here”. It is the story of a family dealing with the impending death of their patriarch. Danny and I have always had such a fondness for this movie – there is just something so beautiful in how it depicts life. There are a few different characters and story lines – but the one that always strikes a chord with me is the married couple who is trying to manage careers, kids, and a dying parent. Their frustrations and fears….. their desire to keep identities individuals…. their attempts to keep their marriage strong …. while life only gets more complicated is just all too familiar. There is nothing overly glamorous or dramatic about this film – they are just doing life.
As the final credits roll I always have the same thought: your partner that you choose for love – will be the partner that stands with you during your most precious and raw moments. Maybe you met cause they had a nice smile or an adventurous spirit … maybe you had the same interests or fit the mold of opposites that attract. No matter the reason, there will come a time when those reasons fade and feel so very far away, yet still that person stands with you. This once stranger is now the persons hand you will grab as you bring new life into this world or say good bye to the person who gave you life. This individual who caught your eye some time before- now will be the person who shares the most intimate moments of your and your family. Powerful how life works. Romance isn’t really about the picture perfect moments, the flowers and chocolates – its the choice to stand through all the moments now and to come.
Seven years also brought me a very life changing dose of reality: all of us walking this earth are works in progress. Reflecting on the very newly released movie “The Big Sick” I determined that milestones in life are not destinations – rather they are gateways to the next chapter. It wasn’t “finally we made it to our wedding day” , it is really: now life as a married couple begins. In the opening scenes of the movie the main character, Kumail, shares this lesson he learned by observing his parents. As a kiddo you assume they are the example to follow: parents have it all figured out and are the ones with the road maps. But as an adult you learn they are just faking it till they make it too. None of us are ever going to stop growing and changing – and so why on earth would marriages be any different. For years I have prided myself on knowing that Danny and I have found an approach to life that works. We have managed to learn how to communicate, how to share, how to disagree – well enough. It got us to present day so we had enough knowledge to be safe. Then life went upside down and I realized how little we know, the minuscule amount of control we had, and the lack of power I was giving to good old fashion tenacity. We are works in progress and so is our marriage! We will never master the best schedule, the perfect chore chart, the ideal argument style, the necessary tools that will work starting today through the rest of our lives, because the circumstances will never be the same. In fact the whole world is constantly starting anew, thus it isn’t about discovering perfect contentment – rather it is about the ability to forgive yourself and try a new approach over and over again…… and marriage? Yea I think its the same thing.
While we are works in project, another lesson that has crossed my mind during this period of celebration: we always want what we ain’t got. And just in case you are wondering, yes there is an accompanying example – the country song “What We Ain’t Got”. This may seem a little obvious or corny – but if you really take a moment to listen to the song it points out how big a part of the human experience is longing to hold someone else’s cards. And this year for me, I discovered that to be true in even the tough circumstances. The cross we were asked to bear was illness – I had come to peace with that and after so many years of doing that life I had gotten used to it enough, I accepted this fate. But the truth is I so longed to go through it as partners and not as patient and caregiver. I wondered what it would be like to care for a sick family member and have Danny with me as a decision maker, as fellow traffic control for bills/food/treatment schedule. Sometimes I even wished for the experience of a later in life diagnosis. Would it have been an easier to have the illness be something that came to us both – versus Danny identifying CF as his condition alone for so long, it was weird that he now had to share it with someone else so intimatly. Would I be less scared? Would we feel closer? Would I have someone to talk to who understood what I was saying? Would we feel like partners more often than not? But the truth is life doesn’t work that way. We can’t choose any of our circumstances, so to survive its not about wanting a different sentence – rather its about figuring out why God deemed you equipped enough to handle the one you got. And that folks changed this whole journey for me….. and I think a lot on how I view the world.
And the for the final lesson on 7 years, I turn to: “The Notebook “. Here I have shared so much of the hard and tough stuff. The reality stuff….. but the truth is I have also had the good romance. The kind that knocks you over the head and you walk around with your mind lost in the clouds….. I had my summer of magic, and it continues today. I still get goosebumps and butterflies when hearing him introduce me as his wife or how he says my name…. the way he drives with ease or knows his way around the kitchen: these details as a regular occurrence in my life, still leave me in awe. I have the chance to go through life with someone I am madly in love with….. its not always that way 24/7, but I did get my love story. And just like in this movie – it was a lifetime that started one summer where two kids just fell in love. Through it all the question of love has never come up – I knew I loved Danny: from the summer of 2005 and on the day I got married and in the moments that I prayed at the church this winter – love was never in question and that in and of itself is a huge blessing.
When folks think of that movie – there are a few scenes that come to mind instantly. For me its the one where Noah is staring at Allie and asking what she wants. Promising that it will be hard, but that he chooses her ~and will choose her everyday. By movie standards, being chosen is the romantic part, but the line that I always remember is that he says it will be hard. He knows they aren’t perfect. That scene brought me a lot of comfort: true love, marriage isn’t meant to be perfect – but its about always showing up, chasing your partner.
When I got married, I was happy about so many things but the largest one was the partnership. I had someone to share life with, to talk everything over with, we would be 50/50 and this life would be hard, but at least shared. Then folks will tell you that 50/50 isn’t exactly it, just to be sure it should be 150% from both people and then you will have a chance to make it. At the time I thought it meant 150% in effort – you gotta give all you got. But in marriage the largest lesson that I believe both Danny and I have learned is the 150% isn’t about effort, its about being prepared to do life alone. Over our 7 years Danny and I have both walked through periods where our partner had given up. Our spouse threw away what mattered most to their lives and made choices that did not align with who either of us wanted to be. And this moments were not a bad day… they were not a tough spell – they were periods of darkness that reasonable thinking was gone and each of us (at different times for different non-martial reasons) were desiring to cause irreparable damage to our lives: as individuals and thus to our marriage. In those moments each spouse who was clear minded, had to choose to walk alone and continue to fight for what they knew was right…. what we were sure was what the other person would want when they woke back up…. to hold us close to the life we choose together on July 17, 2010 and blindly hope that our spouse would return and want that life still too. But truly we did not know. Neither of us had any true assurance that our efforts weren’t futile and that the life we had chosen was the one we would end up with. But that is what marriage is: holding the place open for your spouse in their life when they have temporarily left it. And when they return, you welcome them with total love and acceptance, not asking where the heck they have been or how long you have been waiting for them to wake up or how wonderful you are for doing the right thing. No, you take their hand and continue the walk. I am grateful we both, in separate moments held, had the chance to hold spots in our regular lives for the other to return to and I am most glad we both have come back.
These are the lessons that I have come to learn in my seven years and in honor of my husband – explained with a little help from the world of entertainment. But before I close this rather lengthy post – I want to take a moment to say thank you to all who read my blog. So much clarity and understanding about life, I have come to comprehend while clanking away on the keyboard. This part of my life has been more rewarding than I could have imagined, with a huge piece of that being thanked to those who take the time to follow-along and maybe even gain some new perspectives of their own. This world of blogging has truly transformed my life through the stories and sharing from others and I feel honored to be a part of this phenominia. Life is full…. the globe is so big… yet sharing of these personal stories through blogs provides the opportunity to slow down and witness the beauty in the uniqueness of each journey. A forum to share and honor each life is what I believe we were put on this earth to do and by allowing this openness we can provide one another with faith, community, and wisdom – from anywhere. It is incredible and I know Have A Little Faith in We will be a big part of our story as we move forward….. I just can’t wait to see how. For now, thank you to those who follow along and have sent words of encouragement or to offer us prayers – we are touched.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!