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Friday, July 14, 2017

Anniversaries and the Implications of Time

Recently a friend of mine from the old country, Nebraska, became my friend of Facebook. I am not sure if this makes him an old friend, a new friend, or some sort of hybrid, a rediscovered friend. Internet networking sites have altered the meaning of things. I could write a book about the way that bothers me, but I will spare you, dear reader.

Anyway, we are friends, again. A short time ago he posted a photo of his wedding day. A day that happened thirty five years ago and he was preparing to celebrate the occasion.

I was dumbfounded. For one thing it forced me to realize that I am getting old. I forget to remember how age is creeping up on me. Even on days when things ache so bad it is a toss-up which leg to limp on. Secondly, I couldn’t believe how long it had been since we had last talked, more than thirty five years. I didn’t know he was married, I didn’t even know he was seeing anybody. I didn’t even know he was alive.

Then it struck me, thirty five years is a long time, an impressively long time. But, it isn’t the years. It is the minutes that make a marriage, any relationship. Those brief instances where love is built, reinforced, transformed from the lusty, irrepressible, hedonistic early days to the comfort of soft sighs and gentle embraces. When holding hands is enough to make you believe in heaven.

All of those seconds when you laughed at private jokes that nobody else understood. And if they did they wouldn’t have been nearly so amused. Couples, possibly in self-defense start to assimilate characteristics from each other. Shared feelings are the bonds that last forever.
Times when you are so sick you think you might die. Lying in bed, dozing in and out of sweaty, restless sleep. Then, an angel wakes you, presses a cold cloth on your fevered, pasty forehead and gives you a glass of ice-cold green Kool-aid. It may have been the only thing that kept you from going to the light. Or when she has the flu so bad she is helpless and all she wants to eat is macaroni and cheese. The cheap kind, so you stop every night on the way home and buy a box, cook it up, and serve it to her on the couch. Gently you help her back to bed. Kiss her cheek and pray that she outlives you.

Marriages are built around those times, seconds of pain and fear. Flashes of happiness so blinding they seem impossible. And those seconds that take hours. Those times you are so mad you could just walk away, never look back. Anger and loathing cloud your vision, you lash out, and she lashes out, and you think “if I never see you again it will be too soon.” But, you don’t give up because you know the term my better half is not just a meaningless cliché. It is the truth.  Those minutes, interminable, terrible, regrettable, make a relationship stronger, because afterwards love heals the wounds, and the scars serve to remind of the pain caused by emotions so strong.

So, I salute your thirty five years, we are still rookies, only twenty eight, and I applaud your time management skills. You are both shining examples of the possibilities. And I am grateful.