how we are

Sunday, September 1, 2013

We drive along the sunset, racing prairie grass over winding hills.  Out of one window, the last light fades into low clouds and presses into the Flat Irons that seem to be just out of our grasp.  From the other, downtown gathers its rooftops in the distance.  The windows are down, and the van is full of kids and friends and The Civil Wars.  I rest against my seat and close my eyes.  

Normal life thrills me the most.

Earlier this week I heard a comment that set my teeth on edge.  A little dig unearthed old insecurities, and I couldn't stop replaying them in my head. I tried to ignore it, to pretend nothing was wrong.  But all day it grew, shaping my thoughts and my mothering. The next morning, as he dressed for work, I finally told him what I'd heard.  Instantly I felt lighter, and the comment shrunk to its proper size.

People ask how my husband is.  I assume they mean his kidney or brain, but my mind goes to driving along that gorgeous road and conversations before work.  Better, I always say.

It's the normal things, the every day things, I value most now.  Cracking up at a joke no one else gets, talking through emotions.  A marriage is created with a thousand different connections, but it was the camaraderie I missed the most.  Everyday moments don't happen when you are just surviving.  

Now I notice them all.

We are healing, and he is, too.  After a while you just want to feel normal again.  He went back to work, and we both did our best to pretend his body was fully recovered long before it was.  But you can't psyche yourself out of a brain injury. In time I realized every day was a "bad day", and we hollowed more space for rest.  He is healing, but it takes time.  It will take time for us, too.

Last fall one of my favorite bloggers touched on marriage in her typical light voice: 

"Life is an awful, awful mess, and no one even gets out of it alive ... Marriage, if you do it right, if you decide you are a team, if you stand back to back, swords out, is one of the things that make life—which is so awfully, awfully hard—a little softer."
Back to back, swords out.  I know what it's like to turn those swords inward; fencing one another means nobody has your back.  But we have regained our footing, and once again we face the world together.
And life is a little softer.

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