I wanted to get out as fast as I could. I continued to clean and pack the house, but I couldn’t do it alone. My mother drove 280 miles south to help me organize and sort through what remained of my (our?) life. In one weekend, we scrubbed the entire kitchen and took a large load of unwanted dishes, glasses, pots and pans to the Goodwill. I touched up paint in all the rooms as my mom washed floors and windows. I took down every single picture in the house and packed them away in bubble-wrapped boxes. I duct-taped those boxes shut. Together, we tightened fixtures and fixed loose doorknobs. The house started looking and feeling less like a “divorce house”, and more like a happy home.
I didn’t want to move out anymore.
One of the tasks I ordered myself was to start going through the mountain of boxes in the garage. I was focused, and determined to get it done. As I opened each individually labeled box — “JUNK”, “LES”, “KEEPSAKES”, “PICS” — the anger within my icy cold heart started to melt. Before me lay tangible evidence of a joyful, fun, committed fourteen-year relationship. Our love had been real. I didn’t care if we were fetuses when we got married. What we had was special. All the old memories started flooding back, washing over the pain of the present situation.
I poured out my heart in a long email.
I’m going to bed in a few minutes but I just wanted to write…
I went through boxes and boxes of keepsakes today. It was unbelievably beautiful and painful at the same time. To see our correspondence through the years, and to see old pictures and silly remnants of times past.
I read through some journals you wrote to me before we got engaged, and I read a letter I wrote to you the night before you left for Germany; I read a ridiculously large card that I wrote to you on your 23rd birthday — just two months before we got married.
Our letters have always been filled with such love and hope; such encouragement and support of each other. And such a desire to live together, always, in the Lord. I must have done something that made you sad right before your 23rd birthday and I wrote about it…apologized for being selfish, and it made me cry. Here I am, ten years later, apologizing for being selfish.
It didn’t take long before I couldn’t go through any more boxes. I am not sharing this to make you feel bad (I’m not even sure what you actually feel), but I haven’t wept like this, ever. I guess the point in sharing all of this with you is that I realized just how beautiful our marriage is. We have withstood a lot together. We have weathered separation, deserts, bombs, kidnappings, overwhelming financial messes, sickness, selfishness on both our parts, roommates, “nihhsty” hot chocolate, parental over-involvement, the divorces of our friends, Showtunes, the list goes on and on. I wept at the thought of it all being over.
“And like that,” Verbal Kent says, “Poof! (It’s) gone.”
I went to church this evening with my sister. It was, first, such an answer to many years of prayer for her, and it also was really good to go to church. Afterward, we trekked across the street to the coffee house. You can imagine how old and retarded I felt — here I am, baggy-eyed 32-year old Les hanging out with three 20-year olds in a Christian coffee house. I looked at Carolyn, and then I looked at her friend, and I realized that they are the exact age that I was when you and I got engaged. I started observing their innocence and the hope in their eyes…then I noticed the excitement around me…just a bunch of nerdy Christians getting coffee, but there was something so wonderfully familiar about it all. It felt like I was back at Biola, in Common Grounds…something you would have loathed, but it brought back good, wonderful memories. Coupled with the letters and pictures, birthday cards and old plane tickets I sorted through today, it brought back a flood of memories and emotions about you and me. We have such a long-standing history, but what is more, we have such a beautiful foundation upon which our marriage stands. And maybe it looks dorky from a 32-year old perspective, but it snapped me back into a place from which we haven’t been that far. It certainly made me miss you and grieve your loss all the more, especially if I had to pick from the intolerable “prospects” in the room.
There simply is no other for me but you.
I’m not writing any of this to invoke a response, please don’t feel like you have to say more than you want to or are even capable of at this point. I’d probably start censoring myself and hope that I didn’t say anything to turn you off or annoy you. I’m simply going back to the best way I think I communicate, which is through words on paper/computer screen.
You may argue with me on this next part, but I have to say that I know you…I know you better than anyone knows you (except God). I would even say I know things about you that you don’t know. And I care. I care so, so much. I may do a horrible job at showing it, but I do.
I am your wife, and I love being your wife.
Every word that I wrote to you ten years ago is still true. I love everything about you: your mind, your wit, your humor, your touch, your taste, your smell, your skin…I still love that inside part of your arm. I love you deeply and I love you for who you are, even if you are able to go back and pick apart all the ways I failed at showing that to you. You cannot take away from me the love I have for you, no matter how hard you try. Yes, you successfully damaged all trust in our relationship, and when you continue to pursue a relationship with UKR you are incapable of seeing the beauty that is still our marriage, but even that won’t stop me from loving you.
I love you, I love you dearly and I don’t know what else to say. It’s so late for me, I don’t know why I can’t go to bed, but I just have to express to you how I feel. I want you to know my heart, and how much I want to be with you.
Someday I hope you can read what I am writing to you and it will strike a chord…it will make some sense…maybe it will remind you of the foundation upon which our love is (and has been) built. I have said to you before, nothing is irreparable. You are worth it to me. You are my beautiful, wonderful, amazing husband, whom I love, support, admire and desire. If ever you read anything more from me, know that; know how much you mean to me…our past, our present, our future together.
I don’t mind being the “old familiar” because “new exotic” will eventually become “old familiar”, anyway.
I want to help you write the next chapter of your life, and the next, and the next, and the next.
I love you.