A few weeks ago Richard and I celebrated twenty eight years of marriage. I began the day in my usual fashion, out on the lanai having my quiet time with God. My husband was inside having his quiet time too, and through the open door I could feel the connection as we each experienced our own unique relationship with God. As I read my various daily reflections, the meaning of that day slowly sank in.
We had known each other for almost twenty nine years. I met Richard towards the end of July 1983, and we married on 24 March 1984. It was a bit of a scary time for me. I had been married once before for almost ten very unhappy years and it had been ten years since I had separated and consequently divorced that man. I had lived much of that previous marriage emotionally alone, and had become very independent and self-sufficient in the ensuing ten years. Oh, and did I mention that Richard is almost twenty years my junior??
I thought back to that time after Richard asked me to marry him and remembered how much praying and self-questioning I went through. I had also insisted that we speak with the priest and go through counseling, and then I went on a retreat to distance myself from the relationship for forty eight hours, just to have some clarity and see if I had any different thoughts and feelings about the situation. After doing everything I thought I should do to be sure of how I felt, we went ahead and married.
I sat there on the twenty fourth of March this year with a very full heart as I traveled back in time, and the prevailing thought was “where had all those twenty eight years gone?”. The words from a well-known Christian song came to mind: “in the blink of an eye”. As I said goodbye to Richard that morning (he had a day-long class he had to attend), I remembered our first real kiss. It had me blushing for a moment because it was a very incredible and passionate kiss and I remember thinking that I could just have floated off in that kiss all those years ago. But it was also a very tender kiss, and I think that’s what sold me on Richard from the very first – he was such a tender person. Tender-hearted as a person as well as tender towards me, and others.
If I needed any other evidence of the years we have been together, we have a twenty seven-year old daughter, Melissa, who is proof-positive that all those “blink-of-an-eye” years really existed. I remember very well appearing in a play, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, when I was about six months pregnant with her, and my eldest son, Marco, from my first marriage, break dancing day in and day out during the pregnancy. Melissa was born to the rhythm of break dance.
While Richard was in class, I got on with my day and couldn’t help but notice in great detail the contents of our home, which is something between an art gallery and a curio shop. There are paintings and photos all over the walls. The paintings come from many different places that either Richard has travelled to during his years in the Navy or that we both have travelled to together. Then there are the statues and figurines that cover every shelf and available surface throughout the house. Many people are quite taken aback when they visit our home for the first time because of all “the stuff”. But everything is a joyful representation of the years that we have been together and the memories that we have created.
When Rich came home from class, we got ready to go out and celebrate our anniversary. First we went to the El Apache restaurant to enjoy a delicious Mexican meal. With tummies pleasantly full we then headed over to the Thrasher-Horne Center for Arts to see a show. A few weeks earlier, at a silent auction fund-raiser at our church, we had won the bid on two tickets for The Peking Acrobats which were dated twenty four March. I think the only reason we bid on them was because the date was the same as our anniversary. The show was quite breathtaking and very exciting and it was a great way to celebrate the day.
However, we didn’t quite finish the celebrations at that point. Instead of heading home, Richard pointed the car in the other direction. You see, he has an absolute weakness for Shakes, a small drive up cubicle that sells shakes and sundaes made with frozen custard. And so we completed our evening enjoying our favorites: for Rich this was a strawberry milkshake, extra thick; for me it was a kiddy-cup with one small scoop of vanilla frozen custard topped with a healthy drizzle of caramel – yum. A perfect finish to a perfect evening, and here’s to number twenty nine!!
I have been in a “dry spell” again:-(. And yet I have so much I want to write about. So many things running around my head. But it all seems stuck inside and I haven’t been able to release it. It is so frustrating. So let me start somewhere and see if I can unblock something.
So much has happened in my life in the last couple of months. Oh nothing monumental or earth-shattering – just life. But it has been so much more than the various bouts of sickness that I have had to contend with. Towards the end of February we had an amazing Lenten Mission at our church. A man fired with the Holy Spirit, Fr. Jim Curtin from Wisconsin, came and woke up a new spirit in our parish. I will eventually write a full posting about that.
One morning in March (fortunately in one of my healthy periods!!), my husband suddenly experienced chest pains and was hospitalized. I discovered through that experience that I have a weird way of dealing with unexpected shocking news when it involves my loved ones. That’s another posting too.
Easter and the celebration of the risen Lord came around again. With each year I become more and more aware of the passing of the seasons and the special church and State feast days and festivals. And each one seems to come around faster and faster. I am sure that this has something to do with what happens internally to us as we get older. Food for another posting.
At the end of March we had the joy of a fleeting visit from my eldest son Marco. He was flown from Naples, Italy to DC for a conference. That was a chance not to pass up and so he came a couple of days early and we flew him down to Florida so we could snatch some time with him. It was a happy time, yet tinged with sadness: his ten year relationship with the love of his life is seemingly at an end. The culprit? Words – those said in anger and those left unsaid. I know in my heart that I can write something about that.
And then came my birthday. Thank God by then I was done with being sick and I was able to celebrate with joy. Dinner with friends one day. Lunch with “the girls” another day. Cards and telephone calls from family across the sea as well as those close by. And wonderful gifts that showed just how much people cared. Beautiful flowers from my husband.
Celebration followed celebration as Mother’s Day came just a week after my birthday. What a day of bitter-sweet emotions. Mother’s Day this year occurred on the fourteenth anniversary of the passing of my own mother. I miss her so much. I still have times when I want to telephone her to share a special moment. I often think how she would have enjoyed a visit to my home here in America.
Again I received calls from my sons overseas. My husband showered me with more flowers and a lovely card. And of course my “baby”, my beautiful daughter Melissa, also telephoned. I was out in the garden and had just seen three butterflies in quick succession. They are my special connection to my mother but almost always cause the tears to flow.
I shared my memory of my mother with Melissa and we both cried some together. Between the tears she said, “I wish I could spend the day with you Mum”. But we both know that while she makes the choices that she makes today, that cannot be possible. And my heart is broken all over again. Sometimes being a mother just plains sucks!!
In the last few days I have realized that much of this being blocked, of my inability to write, is connected to this particular heartbreak. I have to put so much energy into staying upbeat, into not walking around looking miserable, that I have no energy left for play dates with my internal Muse. By the end of the day it leaves me totally exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
So now I have to figure out a way to break through this situation so that I can reclaim my inspiration, my time with the Muse. Perhaps I have taken a small step in this direction this week. I have found a support group that may help me to walk through the difficulty in my relationship with my daughter. Then I hope to free myself and my energy and move back into daily regular writing.