Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Marriage as a mattress

So I'm flying to my hometown tomorrow.  Yesterday my mother fell and broke a hip.  It's the second hip, third appendage she's broken in the last five months, the third surgery done to repair it, the third cliff dive into a deeper pool of Alzheimers.  Last night my sister, who lives there, told me she didn't think I needed to come.  This morning she called to say Mom had taken a gigantic turn in the night, is now throwing things at people, yelling at them, trying to pull out her catheter and IV tube. It was quite an SOS from my sister.  So I'm flying over tomorrow to sit with Mom, try to calm her, try to ease the way between her and the nurses. It will work if--and it's a big if--Mom actually recognizes me enough to listen to me.  At the moment that's not at all certain.  But one way or another, I'll be moral support for my sister, who definitely will recognize and appreciate my presence.

I'm not going today, however, because this is Beve and my 25th wedding anniversary.  25 years.  We went out to lunch and I asked him if he wanted to re-up for another 25.  He said he wants at least double that but I said he was probably on his own.  50 years from now, he'd be 102 and I'd be 101, and if he should be so unfortunate to live that long, he'll have to do it with a second wife, because I'm not planning to pass the century mark.  I can't imagine...
But I am grateful for these last twenty-five years.  Almost half my life of loving the Beve, sharing table, bed and home with him.  Sharing the load of parenting, of aging parents,  house ownership and dog ownership.  Twenty-five years of squabbling like siblings at moments, of being selfish and acting like children, and selfless and being Christ to each other, of seeing the best in each other and the worst in each other, and taking those things together to make the imperfect, perfect whole that is US.  Two-become-one adventure that is us. I guess I'm saying that our marriage is the core of the community in which we grow up in Christ and Beve is the first 'other' through whom God works to make me mature.  At the best of moments, I know this is true.  At the worst ones, I'm sorry it's so.  At lunch today--at this lovely little Italian cafe where the owner had the beautiful lilt of Italy in his voice, and I ate a wonderful tomato and gorgonzola soup--Beve prayed that we continue to get to know each other, that we continue to discover new ways of being one, new adventures of this life we are called to live together.  I smiled at his words, echoing them in my head.  To continue to get to know him, to continue to find new ways of loving this man--it's a good goal for our 26th year.

And as the vicissitudes of life roll around us--aging, demented parents; children who--oddly--think they're actually adults now that they're in their 20s; friends with various ailments of body or heart; jobs and ministries to the broken and needy--may this marriage continue to be the sanctuary it has always been to us.  May it be the metaphoric mattress we each fall onto at the end of the day (just as our bed is the physical one), when life hits hard and we are exhausted by it.  May this marriage be a witness for good, a testimony to God to all with whom we rub shoulders.

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