Sometimes healing requires all of our mental energy.
My husband had the kids for the morning. Though he often takes care of them for a few hours at a time, it was the first time he'd been with all four this long, or during the busiest part of their day When I asked if he was up for it, he rolled his eyes. "That's a little insulting," he says. "I can take care of my own kids."
We seem to be having that conversation a lot lately.
When he stays up to talk to me instead of going to bed early, when he offers to go to the grocery store, when we talk through weekend plans. "No," I say, over and over. "You're going to get too tired."
"Then let me be tired," he keeps telling me. "I'm ready to do things again."
Healing has a familiar rhythm, a recognizable tension. No matter what you're healing from, there's always a moment when you are simultaneously ready, and not. Anxious to engage with the world again, yet not quite up for small talk. Restless and bored, but lacking endurance for your usual pace. Though you're not quite back to "normal", you know you can do more than you have been. From that point, the only way to get stronger is to push yourself, crash, then push yourself again.
Right now we are living in that tension. I know he's right, he is ready to do more. My task now is to let him heal. To see him as the person he is today, not the person he was six months ago.
As we have rebuilt our lives this past year, I've learned something important. The key to longevity is to let people change.
No matter how long I've known someone, I can't assume I already know how they will feel or what they're going to say. I am not the person I was two years ago, or five years ago, or twelve years ago. Neither is my husband. We both have different pressure points, new interests, different thoughts, new fears. But I believe in lifelong connections. I believe in roots. I believe in the intimacy and grace of sitting next to someone you've known almost half your life. If I want to live in that intimacy, I have to nurture it. The only way is to see who people are now, and not who they used to be.
Seeing - really seeing - the people I know best is hard work. I have to be self-aware and embarrassingly honest. I have to question my own emotions and responses. To recognize the ways I've changed too, to communicate when I don't feel like it, to refuse to fall back into old patterns. It's hard work, but I know it is the right hard thing. It's the work I want to do.
So I sat in the coffee shop while my husband made breakfast for all four kids, and I waited for my free time to draw to a close. After a few minutes I packed my things, walked back to my car, and started toward the airport.
Today was the day. I was going to spend a few hours with someone I've known as long as I've known my husband, someone I know as well as I know myself. At one time I thought I'd never see her again, but over the past several months, that relationship has healed as well. I am not the person I was the last time I saw her, and neither is she. As we have changed, we have learned to see the other as we are now, and not as we were. We've talked over email and video, but today would be the first time I would see her again. I knew in my gut this visit wasn't going to be the awkward, terse moment it could have been. It was a reunion.
I drove toward the airport and marveled at the morning, and the ways we have all healed. A long time ago someone told me all healing is supernatural. The fact that anyone ever gets better is proof of God's work in our lives. As I have watched my husband get stronger, my marriage heal, and a relationship that once felt hopeless come back to life ... I believe it.