Call me a sentimental fool. Life has seemed to balance itself out, and dare I say, assume a new sense of normalcy. It's as disorienting as it is fabulous. What a bizarre turn of events that finds me so thoroughly enjoying staying home with my children and assuming the role of a neo-classical housewife! As much as I am finding unexpected satisfaction in this quieter life, it begs the question- does it change who I am? And who exactly is that?
The day Jackson was diagnosed, I looked at my husband's red-rimmed eyes, full of misery, and wondered if this was the end of us. Could we survive this? Would he resent me, would we grow to hate each other, or worse, would we become indifferent strangers?
We've recovered from the suffocating darkness of that moment. We smile, and we laugh, every day- even on the bad days. And to me it calls to mind just how we've been an unlikely success from the very start.
I came to Fort Worth a newly independent single mother, waiting impatiently to be free of my former life. I quickly stumbled into the circle of friends I had been looking for my entire life. Part rogue, part misfit, but all heart, they accepted me in ways I never thought possible, cheering me on and occasionally glossing over my clumsy disgraces. I exploited the town on the nights my 4 year old daughter was with her Dad (And while we looked for an acceptable preschool on this side of town, that became more often than not) and abused the classification of 'single' as a means to torture the male population of Tarrant County. Just as I was learning to juggle motherhood with insanity, I met Mike. Mikey, to those of us who toast with him and watch him rant.
To be honest we had 'met' years before, at a local music showcase a friend of mine ran and I volunteered at. However the meeting was so unremarkable that neither of us has the slightest recollection of it- perhaps due in part to his having been 17 years old and my having freshly given birth to Emily at the time. We were both interested in other people. We were both adamantly anti-commitment. At one point within the same week, we both swore to never talk to the other again, claiming disinterest- incidentally just before he made his 16 hour journey back to Arizona, where he was finishing Luthiery school. In spite of our heroic efforts, the silent standoff lasted only 15 hours into the journey. As he finished school over the next month, we exchanged over four thousand text messages and spent the wee hours of every night on the phone like middle schoolers. By the time February rolled around I was determined not to tell him I loved him when he came home.
Around midnight on February 4, 2007 he rolled up to the house, U-Haul still in tow, and knocked on my door. It took me almost ten minutes to answer the door, because I'd gotten so nervous I drank an entire bottle of wine and went to sleep. Eventually I made my way, shaking, down the stairs and opened the door. I opened it up, and for a brutally long moment, neither of us spoke. Mike came in, and never left.
Yes, it was foolish and impulsive and probably irresponsible, but also impossible to resist. We had to be together, and so were were. All of the time, days on end, somehow never tiring of each other. In the beginning we fought, loudly, and often. At times, we fought more than we got along. Our friend laid bets on who would survive, one cleverly quoting "It's either going to be the best thing that's ever happened to them, or they'll kill each other"
Somehow we didn't kill each other. We began to adapt to each other's temper, navigating the sensitive spots. After a couple of months, Mike said that if things were still 'this good' after a year, he wanted to get married. A couple of months after that, he asked me. I resisted in typical fashion until the night he looked at me and said "You have to marry me, I'm never going to ask anyone else." A couple of months after that...we were married, on the patio of a pub, by a hippie in a tuxedo t-shirt, surrounded by almost all of the people we love. (my family, sadly, couldn't be there)
It was absolute bliss. And as weddings go, it seemed like some sort of punctuation mark in our relationship, but in retrospect, it was only the opening line.
How I love this man. This man who stood by me and made sure I could fight in the custody battle for my daughter. Who has fought off the world with me through unemployment, education, sickness and health, depression and fear, not to mention the size of my ass. The man who promised me everything and has never failed to deliver. If this is the hand we've been dealt, there is no one on this earth- trite as it may sound- who I would rather hold my hand through the scary parts.
Considering the past, I am assured that we can handle the future. When I look back on who we were, I begin to feel again who we are. This odd, sometimes awkward period of redefining ourselves will slowly dissolve into a new gleaming version of our love story, rich with plot twists. And although we don't always get to choose how the story goes, we choose the words we write it with, and that will define who we are.