Today is our 18th wedding anniversary. I could write so much about the wonderful person who is my life partner; I’ll stick with the essay below. I wrote it a few years ago after a sudden and scary illness caused my hospitalization to help me remember what “in sickness and in health” means.
I spent the decades of my twenties and thirties in a search for “The One.” My pattern was to choose potential partners who didn’t see me in their future, and then invest my effort, energy and self esteem in convincing them to view me differently. I came to believe that my God was a Woman when She intervened on behalf of my better judgment. These relationships now only have the shelf life of lessons learned.
“The One” entered my life. He was so true to my list it was almost like he was a design from central casting. And, he was into me. He was so perfect that I didn’t see it immediately. This time, She and a good friend intervened when I was ready to bolt. I stuck with the relationship that stuck.
Even though I described myself as “winning the spouse lottery,” I took note of grievances and annoyances over the years. Maybe I noticed the small things missing because the big important things were already there. In the unconscious routine of normal life, I invested more in my list of grievances and annoyances than they merited.
We were married for 16 years when “The Monster” struck. Our last conversation before he left for work on that President’s Day weekend ended with his anticipation about the welcome respite of a rare day off. Our first conversation on his arrival home that same evening started with “Let’s call your doctor.” Instead of the respite of promised of a holiday weekend, The Monster took him for a ride, too.
“The One” was never far from my side in the hospital. He snuck in contraband lemon ice after he noticed that it was the only thing I’d eat from the meal tray. He presented every variety of tea he could find so “I’d have a choice.” He arrived at my bedside with care packages of little necessities he thought would make me more comfortable. He brought my favorite pillow from home. He held my hand when needed. He hugged when needed. When I was searching for “The One,” someone expressed hope that I’d marry someone who would help me with my bedpan, because in the end that’s what commitment might come down to. I know for a fact that I did.
Wise people remind us that our prayers are always answered, just not in the way we expect. Today, I thank God that She knew better when I sent up my desperate devotionals during my single years. The right ”One” did come along. Occasional storms, like The Monster, remind me that I am lucky enough to love the best person I know.
Happy Anniversary, Peter.