Wednesday, June 04, 2008

June 4th

I wrote the date down on a check earlier today and wondered if I had forgotten someone's birthday. The date looked familiar to me. As I was putting Ella into the tub tonight, she asked how many more days until her birthday..."Let's see...its June 4th...June 4th?..."

Oh yeah, today would've been my parents' 31st wedding anniversary. They've been divorced for 15 years now, so its obviously no longer a holiday. While I doubt either of them would ever use the word "regret" to describe the years they spent growing up together as young adults, raising kids, and learning to get by, I know that they are now both with people who better suit the people they ultimately wanted to become.

Couples whom we've counted among our favorites for years have sited their differences as irreconcilable in the past year. It could be for the best, and I'm certain great things are in store for each of their futures.

I have no arrogance about my own marriage. While I truly love waking up next to Pat every morning more now than I ever have, I also concede that marriage is fragile and prone to our humanity at any point. Pat's dad said it best over lunch on Saturday when he said, "He's an idiot! He's always been an idiot!" (In response to Pat accidentally causing our daughter to bust into tears because of some poorly timed sarcasm.) And if Pat doesn't do something to screw it up, I'm just as likely. If you've ever met my compulsive father, you probably marvel that he or any of his offspring are capable of healthy relationships.

Some say its unrealistic to think that any relationship is for a life time. That you need the mate to grow up with, and perhaps a different one to grow old with. I don't think this statement lacks logic.

A few years ago, we got an early morning call saying my Great Grandfather had passed away in his sleep at his assisted living facility. One of my first questions was, has anyone told his wife, my Great Grandmother, his wife of over 60 years. She was in a nursing home, several miles away from her husband's facility, almost comatose with little memory of her life at all due to Alzheimer's. She'd been in that state for at least 2 years. After my Great Grandfather's funeral we went to visit my Great Grandma. We told her of his death, of what people had said about him at the funeral, and who all had been there to pay their respects. She made no indication that she knew we were even in the room, let alone respond to the fact that we'd just told her of her husband's death. She passed away 2 days later. I realize it might sound trite or quaint, but I will always treasure the idea that she might have somehow been willing herself to carry-on for the sake of her husband, in spite of their physical separation, so that he never had to live without her. That once she knew he was gone, she could let go and let her own life expire.

This too may sound trite and quaint, but I hope everyone else is wrong, that the odds don't include me, and that I too can die as an old woman knowing that my husband, that I not only grew up with but also grew old with, no longer needs me.

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