My husband is overseas. He is in Paris, France, with the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe. The sad part is that he is working and traveling to five different countries in twelve days and will have virtually no time for sightseeing. Not exactly the way to tour Europe. The co-worker that he is traveling with is sick with the flu.
I am here with two young children who seem to have devoted their lives to irritating me in every way possible. I am buried in Valentine party plans, Valentine boxes, and third grade math study guides which explain quadrangles that are parallelograms and quadrangles that are not parallelograms. I got lost somewhere between the rhombuses and trapezoids.
I have two sheets of a legal pad filled with things I need to do. I was writing out this list this morning and drinking a cup of tea and looking out the window at the rain. Before I knew it, I had been staring out the window in a daydream so long that the tea was cold. 40 minutes had passed by, and I didn't even realize it.
I got up this morning with the intentions of getting right back into my daily routine: laundry, treadmill, shower, cleaning, errands. But all day long I felt like I was in one of those bad dreams where you're trying to run, and you can't. I feel tired.
Last weekend was filled with a flurry of activity getting my husband ready for his trip. In our usual form, we were ironing and packing right up until it was time to leave for the airport. I dropped my husband off at the curb and gave him a kiss and hug goodbye. The one word I hate more than any other in the universe is "goodbye". I walked back to the car, worried about navigating my way home from the airport at dusk on unfamiliar highways.
When I went to get into the car, I turned back to look at my husband, and it was all I could do not to run after him and grab onto his feet to keep him here. I watched as he walked away from me into the airport. This was my husband. Someone so familiar to me. His hair and beard are getting a bit gray now. He stood near the airport door, in a dress coat, all of his luggage and laptop stacked beside him.
I remember when we were both in our early 20s. He was going to school and working in a lighting store, and I was a legal secretary barely making ends meet. His hair was longer. I can still see him sitting on my couch in my apartment. We had decided to pool our money and get something to eat. We were between paydays, and we came up with a dollar. We bought four macaroni and cheese dinners with the money.
I can still see him working on his old brown pickup truck in the garage of the ramshackle duplex we lived in when we first moved in together. When the wind would blow outside, you could stand in front of the living room window in that duplex, light a match, and the wind would blow the match out.
I see him looking out the window of his apartment building in Madison during his senior year of college - watching me leave. We would spend every other weekend together, going out to eat, shopping, cooking. I would iron out a week's worth of shirts for him before I would leave on Sunday afternoon. We were crazy in love.
I remember him getting down on one knee and proposing marriage. We scraped together the money for a small but lovely wedding. Several times during the wedding ceremony, I nervously reached out for his hand. It was always there.
I can still feel his hand holding mine during the births of our children. Speaking words of encouragement in my ear. Trying to hide the worried look on his face. I see him awkwardly holding our new baby daughter and promising her that he would never let anything bad ever happen to her.
I can see him in the park with each of our kids teaching them to ride a bicycle, and in the back yard, teaching them to throw and catch a baseball. The kids always make him smile. He is such a great Dad.
And I remember a defining moment in our relationship in 1993. That was the year his best friend was hospitalized after a brain tumor burst and left him a quadriplegic. We made the trip from Wausau to the University of Wisconsin Hospitals in Madison on the weekends to see him. The visits were incredibly difficult. We stood by helpless as we watched this very active and athletic young man adjust to being without the use of his arms and legs. For awhile, his friend couldn't speak, and we tried to read his lips. Sometimes the visits went fairly well, and sometimes they were horrible for all of us. Through it all, we tried to be there for him and lend our support any way we could.
During one visit, I turned and looked at my husband. I caught his eye, and my heart made a sound. It was the moment I realized that not only did I love this man, but I knew that I always wanted to be with him. I wanted to hear that sound for the rest of my life.
And sometimes, amid the piles of laundry and stacks of school papers, during simple everyday moments, I look at him and realize that he is the one who makes me happy. I still hear the heart sounds.
"I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend. Lucky to have been where I have been. Lucky to be coming home again.
I'm lucky we're in love in every way. Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed. Lucky to be coming home someday."
Lyrics from "Lucky" by Jason Mraz