Thursday, December 4, 2008

Peace and Joy

Outside, huge, light and fluffy flakes of snow come twirling down. Already soft piles lie over the ground, a select few fell on the lighted snowflake Christmas decorations that I put up last night, driving the stakes into the cold ground with the heel of my foot.

Inside, all is quiet and still. The fluffy cat Bean is curled up tightly on top of the printer, his favorite place to nap, one silvery paw over his face. I am listening to Mannheim Steamroller's version of "We Three Kings." I have always loved this song, from the first time I heard it as an impressionable teenager.

The chimes and steady, lopping gait, the pipping sound of the instruments always evoked for me so clearly the great, rolling open sand of the desert at night, the wind blowing, the camels making their slow and steady way forward, the fringes on their ornate harnesses lifting in the wind, the wise men riding in silence, lifting their faces to the bright and burning light in the vast night sky.

I feel the peace of the Christmas season and I cherish it because such a feeling is fleeting and rare. This peace is in part because Keith and I have finally concluded a long and messy argument that strained us both terribly.

It is amazing to me how much faith is required in a relationship; faith that the best in the other person will rise to the surface, faith that whatever hardships we go through, they will in the end make the relationship stronger. At one point, during the worst of the argument, I cleaned the house with much vim and vigour, and made a decision. I sent this in an e-mail to my husband:

"I've been doing a lot of thinking through today, as I cleaned and I realized a couple things. First of all, I give up on trying to control how you feel. I can't. You're going to feel what you need to feel and believe what you need to believe. And that's ok.

As for me, I'm not going away. Sweetie, you got yourself a woman who's just as stubborn as you are and who knows how to love, both you and myself and I'm not going away. I'm going to be here, whether you talk to me or not, whether or not you're angry or hurt or what.

I'm decorating the house for Christmas with a white Christmas tree just like I said I would and I'm going to put red bows on the tires and wrap up the packages. This is our first Christmas together, and it doesn't have to be perfect. It just have to be real. Perfect is impossible.

I don't care how you come home. You can come home unannounced, angry and hurt. You can come home happy and loving. I'm going to be here, loving you, no matter what.

So, bring it on, husband mine! I'm big enough to take what you dish out and love you anyway. I'm not saying it doesn't hurt me; it does. But I'm not leaving you and I'm not giving up on you.

I love you just the way you are and I believe in you. I believe in the best of you even in the middle of the hurt. I know that you love me and that you want to trust me. I know that about you. I believe that God choose us for each other, I know it. I love you. You're my husband and I don't want anyone else but you.

I want you, with your Indiana accent and your John Deere leanings and your broken heart, and all your scars and the skin graff and the strength in you. I love your stubborn, tender heart and your mind with its crazy thoughts and all the hurt you carry from being to war and being through a terrible marriage and a hurtful childhood.

I love you just the way you are and guess what? We are going to spend the rest of our lives together. We get to do that! I don't care where. It could be out East in a double wide with two four wheelers. It could be in another state because you're posted somewhere else. I don't care, because as long as I'm with you, I'm where I need to be."

It occurs to me that renewing one's vows happens over and over again in the midst of a marriage. And each time we say, Yes, I Do and Yes, I is more meaningful than the last time.

I thought that the argument was resolved after this, but it began to dawn on me that I was still angry at him. I was angry at him and feeling insecure and I couldn't tell him. I was afraid to and I kept putting it off until he got here in person, which rather took some of the delight away from seeing him, and made me stiff and strange over the phone.

Last night, however, he said something which triggered an outpouring of honesty from me. This was occurring over the phone, and it kept disconnecting. Picture me, in bathrobe and bare feet, sobbing into the phone while wandering aimlessly around the house, dogs at my heels and talking for literally minutes before realizing that I was talking to dead air. And then calling back and picking up where I had left off and...disconnection again.

Finally, I was able to say everything I needed to and lo and behold, my husband was not angry at me for saying it! In fact, he was able to absorb it without becoming defensive and then to assure me, over and over again, not to be anxious.

Here are some of his e-mails on the subject:

"Aww, Sweety! I love you so much! Ok, Sweety, I am wrong again; maybe I come down too hard in full force but it's the only way I know how..I will work on it. I know I put you through a lot and things are just as hard back there. Thank you for forgiving me when I get upset. Seeing those pictures of you just broke me, I am so in love with you- I just want to protect my investment. Honey, I don't think I ever told you this, but every night when I pray, I thank god for sending me you. Thank you for doing everything you do; I love little kitten. Give the girls kisses and Toby will just have to settle for a pet, the only male touching those lips is ME!!!!!!!!I love you."

(Toby is my cat. On that "coming down full force" comment, I cannot count the times I have said to him, "Honey, I am not a soldier; I am your girl. I have not been through boot camp.")

By the way, I told him I would be blogging all this and asked if that would make him uncomfortable. He said, carelessly, that it didn't. And I'm deeply glad, because I think the good things in life never shine so bright as when they lie in recent comparison to the dismal.

So, let it snow! I don't need to clean anymore, my husband is under the impression that I am stressing myself out too much with it and that I should just relax more and that he is not going to be doing a white glove inspection when he arrives and actually, just wants to spend time with me and not even to go grocery shopping, because we can do that together when he gets here.

And, I got paid! So, perhaps tomorrow I will go out and (gasp!) buy myself something with my birthday money from my parents. And go to the library. And day dream about how soon he will be home. So soon sometimes it is hard to breathe and I get these shivers like fire all along my skin and then I don't think about it anymore because, after all, I do need to breathe.

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