Several years ago, my mother told my sister and I the story of her wedding dress. No, she told me, we just both happened to fall in love with the same dress.While we were at my Nonnie’s house in Connecticut, my sister and I noticed my mother and Aunite M wore the same wedding dress. Since the dress was rather pricey, they decided to go fifty-fifty on the dress and both wear it.My mother wore the wedding dress first; my Auntie M a couple months after.
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He’s run a thousand times around the sun with me and we hold hands and touch feet at night between the covers even when we’re wretched and fighting we’re always fighting our way back to each other. He runs on snatched sleep and kids tucked into his shoulder on both sides of the bed. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. When the battered white minivan pulls into the driveway his children trip over themselves, their abandoned Crocs and the pool bag to be the first to open the door and spill out their day into the hands of the man who can catch them. This ordinary unremarkable love walks slowly every day alongside. One permission slip signed, one Lunchable, one school play, one art project, one Lego box, one more night time cup of water delivered at a time. To catch our runaway tongues and tempers and gift them into the hands of the person who was gifted to us.
This ordinary love that wakes up with bad breath and crease marks on its cheeks and is the daily bread that sustains across time zones and countries and cultures and the exhaustion of trying to figure out how to be a parent and a grown up and somebody’s forever. He lets me warm my ice cold feet between his legs and the covers at night. This is love with the lights on and eyes wide open.
This is the brave love, the scared love, the sacred boring, the holy ordinary over sinks of dirty dishes and that one cupboard in the kitchen with the broken hinge.
There is a rumor, an urban myth, a fiction, a fantasy, a black and white screen cliché that love looks like the mad, romantic dash through airports for a last chance at a flailing kiss. I looked in the mirror and there was nothing romantic looking back at me, but around the wrinkles in my eyes, the parched, white cheeks, there was the deep romance of being loved beyond how I looked. He’s gone out for milk at 10pm, he’s held our children through bouts of stomach viruses and told me there is nothing about his kids that disgusts him.
He’s carried us on his shoulders when we were too tired or too sad or too done to keep doing the every day ins and outs that make up a life.
He’s unloaded a hundred loads of laundry and put the dishes away.
He lays down his life and it looks like so many ordinary moments stitched together into the testimony of a good man who comes home to his family in the old minivan, the one with the broken air conditioning.
Three kids and hundreds of miles and potty breaks and princess pull-ups, the car covered in the markers I’d bought for window art.
Turns out the soft beige ceiling of a mini van makes a perfect canvas.
Rainbow swirls color the door panels and there are goldfish crackers crushed so deep into the seats that they will likely be there come next summer and this same road trip all the way to Northern Michigan and the lake that his family have been coming to for decades. Three times he’s held my hands, my shaking legs, my head, my heart as I’ve bared down and groaned a baby into being.
He has run for ice chips and doctors and night shifts and laid himself low to help me hold on through the hard rock and roll and push and pull of labor and I’ve never drowned holding onto his hand. And we must go back to our real lives where we forget I threw up so hard and fast and often one night in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania that I couldn’t stand come morning. He went out for crackers and soda and mind numbing games to keep the three kids occupied and away from mom.