Forty-four Years

Forty-four years of marriage has its own rhythm.

It’s seeing your husband and thinking, I know you.

It’s finding value—lots of it—in difference.

It’s laughing the easiest and the longest together.

It’s knowing the ways that marriage is both less and more than you thought it was:

less score-keeping, less candlelight, less drama;

more small acts of kindness, more true.

It’s looking at your husband with the same kind of how lucky am I awe.

It’s holding hands, quick apologies, and forgotten compromises.

It’s more listening and less talking.

It’s feeling secure and sated in your marriage.

You realize there are more years behind you than there are ahead.

You accept certain vices—talking to yourself, that chocolate addiction, your stubborn

streak—as intractable.

You face the frailty of family and friends and come to terms with the truism that every

day on earth is a gift.

Forty-four years of marriage is:

well-worn routines,

remembering when,

balancing comfort with skating on the edge,

having no more parents,

going to more funerals than weddings,

confidence in the Way You Do Things

yet aware how much is uncertain;

content with uncertainties,

comfortable letting it all hang out,

and forty-four years of marriage is a long pour of red wine after sundown.

It’s waking at four a.m. to the contemplative quiet of early morning, before anyone.

It’s imagining one more grandbaby, one more warm, soft baby against your slackening

skin—and it’s knowing that most things aren’t about you.

Forty-four years of marriage is its own ephemeral incandescence, achingly bittersweet,

and vanishingly transient.

It is something to celebrate.

~~~~~~~

Note—A “found” poem: inspired by, and with thanks to Galit Breen’s This Is 39, Lindsey Mead’s This is 38, and Dina L. Relles’ This is 35.

Unremarkable

HERE’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU’RE WAITING FOR MORE TEST RESULTS FOR THE SUSPICIOUS SHADOW ON YOUR HUSBAND’S CHEST X-RAY:

You give money to homeless people who say they want food.

You stick around to talk to them when they seem lonely.

You allow those drivers in traffic who are in such a rush to cut in ahead of you.

You admit it’s not death that makes you shrivel into yourself and brings up those old whimpering voices pleading for safety; it’s dread of that conversation, of giving permission to one’s life partner to take that journey alone, without you.

The mention of Milano on someone’s Facebook travel posting reminds you when you and your husband also flew into Milano. You remember the hundreds of steps you climbed to your room in Cinque Terre overlooking the Ligurian Sea. You recall all the ferries you rode back and forth across Lake Como—you, who fear boats—on glassy, tranquil water every day, people-watching, dreaming. The little wine cave at the bottom of Bellagio’s stairs; the gelato and the Internet café at the top; and the endless view. You are happy.

You notice what you’re taking time to do as you contemplate death: To slow down. To uncharacteristically stop for the homeless. To allow the life around you to proceed. It’s not about you, after all. To savor.

The test results are benign, “unremarkable.” When they are known, it is that you’ve found your way to daily appreciation that you treasure.

Gratitude has taken over your days.