… someone I miss more now than I did when I first lost you. We did not spend much time talking about your past. I never really heard you speak of your pain, your joy, or your regrets. You did not teach me in the traditional way, but you still taught me. Oh, what you taught me.
I can only hope that when you reached the end of your life, you saw your accomplishments and not your failures. Some would point fingers and say, “Wow, four marriages. There must be something wrong with you!” But, those people do not know you. Each story has more than one side. Love and decisions are multifaceted.
If you had your life to live again, chances are you would make some different choices. I remember the time Alan Jackson’s song, Livin’ On Love came on the radio. You told me it was just a song and that marriages need more than love. It was as if you could not stomach the idea of me jumping into a hasty marriage and hoping for the best. Was it because you did and he broke your heart?
Surely you would want to be remembered for your accomplishments. Could it be that through your mistakes you taught me something valuable about life? Could that be considered a compliment? You made some poor choices, but you wanted more for me. I know you did. It would do your heart good to know that I finished college and graduate school. Sorry, I did not get my doctorate. I hope you will forgive me. ~smile~ And, no, I did not marry a man with red hair and freckles; but, I think if you knew him, you would like him. He would have challenged you and you would have respected him for it.
Though he may not know it yet, (at least not until he reads this post), Eric owes you a debt of gratitude as well. You were not a Sunday school teacher. You did not show me right from wrong in a text book sense. You acted it out in a memorable way. Life was your stage, and you painted a realistic picture of the pain of love gone wrong.
You taught me…
- … fairy tales are make believe. In my younger days, I was a bit of a romantic. I loved the idea of boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, and then boy and girl stay in love forever. You must have believed in that too at one time. What was it about him? His charm? His worldly ways? Did he know just what to say? I do not think you ever told me the story of how you met him. You were seventeen and in love, and then he broke your heart. Were you ever able to forgive him? I never knew him, but I felt angry for how he hurt you.
- … attraction is not enough. Did you think, “Finally, now I can have some happiness?” What was it about him? Was he older? Did he make a good living? Did he promise to take care of you? Maybe he seemed like the kind of man who would give your children a good life? When did the tables turn? How long did it take you to realize he was evil? Did he kill your dreams? Did you grieve for what you thought your life was going to be? There is no doubt in my mind that you would have given anything to erase those years.
- … no matter how much someone loves me, I can push him away. “Okay, after years on my own, now I think I have it together. This man is the best. We never argue.” I know you thought this marriage was promising. He was a gentle man. A good man. A human man. To this day, I do not fully understand what tore this marriage apart, and I remember you dodging the question when I asked. Were you too wounded to open yourself up to him? Were you too critical? Did he have to pay for someone else’s mistakes? He made his choice. He could have stayed. He was in the wrong too. Still, I cannot help but wonder if you unknowingly put up a wall between your heart and his. I still wish he had never left. I loved him too.
- … men who actually stay for better or for worse are to be respected. He was – well – different. ~smile~ I remember visiting you on a Sunday afternoon and meeting this unusual man. “We are just friends,” you proclaimed. Then, I remember visiting you the next Sunday and you were married! I am not sure if you and this man ever loved each other romantically. Maybe you just enjoyed each other’s company? I liked He was different, but fun. He would play his guitar and I would sing along. Why? Why did this one walk away? Because you had responsibilities? Because life is not a free-spirited game? Was caring for your mother so much of an inconvenience that he could not handle the pressure? He may have been fun to have around, but not one to be respected. Men who take care of their families and responsibilities – they are to be respected. Those are the kind of men to marry, even if they are not as exciting as the bad boys.
Your choices in love may not have been wise, but you must not think them complete failures. What you learned the hard way I was able to learn by watching your life. You did not pretend your marriages were great. You did not defend your choices. I always knew you wanted me to have a happy marriage someday. You taught me well. I only wish you had experienced the same happiness you wanted for me.
Maybe your lessons were not traditional, but I thank you for them anyway. God allowed something good to come from your difficult circumstances.
You and I are more alike than I ever realized when you were with us. Remember how you would buy a new purse (probably at a yard sale) and leave junk and crumpled receipts in the old one? I do that too. ~smile~ Remember how you used to love history? I wish we could talk about it now. I still enjoy driving around with no particular place to go; and, eating a meal in the car is still as much fun as eating in a restaurant. I can still balance personal pan pizzas on my knees. ~smile~ I miss you so much. I miss those days. I miss the talks.
Your life was not wasted. Not in the least. You made some mistakes, but you may have saved me from doing the same. Thank you for the heads up about love and all that jazz. My heart aches for one more day with you.