This will be difficult to believe, but for the last two nights I've taken baths in our jacuzzi tub. After the longest remodeling project in history, carved into the space of Beve's job--and second job--it is finally finished. A year ago, the bathroom off our bedroom was a carpeted windowless mess of a room, with tobacco-stained walls that no amount of bleach had ever managed to remove, a shower so tiny we could barely turn around in it, full of so many cracks we worried that one of those showers would find us falling through the floor, and a jerry-rigged home-made vanity that barely held together. We lived with the room for 4 years--much longer than either of us imagined--and hated it every single day. So last September, as soon as we got our last chublet settled in her dorm room across the state, Beve took a sledge hammer to the shower and so it began.
It was not the first time he dealt with kids leaving home by demolishing something. Two years earlier, when E and J left home for the first time within two weeks of each other, Beve tore out the kitchen carpet. (Can you believe it? Carpet in both kitchen and bathroom, while the rest of the house is hardwood!) It was slightly inconvenient because we still had laundry to do to get them off to school. I wasn't the most supportive of spouses. Then an older friend of ours told me, "You're crying, he's doing home projects. It's all the same thing." And it all clicked into place for me. For Beve, stress causes adrenalin rushes and he gets to work. So I wasn't at all surprised to see him take a sledge hammer to the bathroom when our baby finally flew.
And it wasn't surprising that he got a 'bee in his bonnet' (the phrase he used) to finish this weekend. What else was he going to do while waiting up half the night? He also trimmed the front bushes, cleaned off the back deck and patio, power-washed the house...you know, I kind of like Beve under stress. And finished our very nice bathroom, a full year (SK leaves a week from tomorrow) after that first sledge hammer blow. In fact, we both think it's the nicest room in the house. Too bad it's too small for parties.
It isn't like the Beve's a lazy man, mind you. Beve works harder than almost anyone I know (except the farmers, but they're in a class of their own!). I'm thinking of this today because summer officially ended for him at 11am when he had to meet with the other counselors and administrators. Tomorrow he'll hit the ground running, meeting new students. It's always been a sad day when the Beve has to go back to work, but this summer it's even harder. None of us--Beve, SK or I--were ready. Beve thinks of the projects he didn't finish, SK thinks of how nothing about this summer was the way she expected, and I...well, I'll just miss him. I know the rhythm for my work will be better now, but I'd always trade it for time with him.
Beve's the worker in our family. I'm the thinker. He does, I sit. More than once I've had a case of the 'shoulds and oughts' when Beve works out his stress, because, though the exact stress on me puts me to bed, I think I should help him when he's moving a hundred miles an hour, moving steadily through project after project, sweat darkening his clothing from shoulders to knees. Seriously. So I try to help him for a while, until I can't lift my hands over my head or stand on my aching legs any longer, and he'll get a chair for me and say, "I just need you to be moral support." And I have to tell you, sitting and watching him work can make me feel pretty guilty. Like a weight around his neck. But not to him. He's just glad to have me talk to him.
When I think of Beve in these kinds of moments, I really get those famous marriage verses from Ephesians 5: 25. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..." This is how the Beve loves me. As a servant, putting my needs over his, caring for me in my weaknesses, loving me in spite of them. And it's a picture of Christ. I see him, I see Him, and never take it for granted.