A startling revelation from an unexpected direction
I got a response to one of my stories this morning that really put some wheels in motion. I don’t want anyone to have to dig for the details. And I don’t wish to call out the responder because nothing he said was in any way negative.
What got me thinking was this line:
I envy you and your marriage and I pass on my heartfelt condolences for your loss.
My response is below:
Envy. What an interesting choice of words.
I think many would envy the relationship I had with my wife. I know I’ve had a couple of girlfriends that did. And it was a beautiful, magical life I lived. In many ways. It was a gift. And people want that sort of magic. For their whole lives.
But who would envy the end?
That which the Universe gives, the Universe can also take away. I could choose to be bitter and resentful (as both of those girlfriends turned out to be after what we had ended). Or, I could see the end as a gift also. I have to choose the gift. To do otherwise negates all the good and destroys the future. I won’t be that person.
The next time a relationship opportunity arises, I’ll be more careful. I no more wish to break hearts than I wish to have mine broken. But it’s a risk we take in the pursuit of magic.
Every relationship ends. It‘s a gift that you don’t get to keep.
I’m not even going to post a link to the story or even any of my other stories. Suffice it to say, I loved my wife. We had a wonderful marriage and four great kids. She died of ALS in November of 2009. My life is full of gratitude for all of it.
I think that very last line is the key to the Universe. It’s been said before but people still fail to get the message.
My wife was no angel. She was a control freak. Until we had kids she had this nasty habit of filling the back of her car with empty soda cups. And I mean FILLING it because she never cleaned her car. She wasn’t someone you wanted to piss off either. Her tongue was as sharp as a razor and she knew exactly how to slice your balls off with one well directed barb. I’m no angel either. But since I’m the one still here, and I’m writing this story, I don’t have to admit to my shortcomings.
Despite all that, we built a life together. It was an ordinary life. Full of stresses and challenges. Just like any other life. We had each other’s backs. All through the hard times and the good times. I think we were both grateful that we had found someone that we could live with over the long haul. Because it’s not about settling. It’s about truly becoming happy with what you have found.
I’ve had a couple of fiery relationships since my wife died. Passionate, great sex, deep emotional connection and joyful coexistence. But they couldn’t stand the stress of ordinary life. Some core values just didn’t align. And you can’t build a solid pyramid when one of the cornerstones is missing.
The truth is, these women envied what my wife and I had. True, they could only imagine what life with me would be like. And since it came from my stories, it sounded wonderful. Because it was wonderful. But it was also ordinary, boring, everyday. I like that. These women wanted the fairytale romance forever. We just couldn’t make the transition to ordinary and keep it together. The magic glue that my wife and I had just wasn’t there.
I think that secret sauce is gratitude. Neither my wife nor I really ever envied anyone for anything. We had the things that were important to us. And we were grateful for those things. We didn’t talk about what other people had that we didn’t. We just didn’t care.
Long before I ever heard the phrase “you be you” I was living that life. It’s only in the context of those last couple of relationships that I veered from MY path. And they both ended in disaster.
That’s a lesson full of gratitude.
Thank you for reading.