I know I have told a lot of stories about how much I miss my wife and what she was like, and sure I do, I miss her more than anything, but there’s more than just the physical presence. I miss having her here for a myriad of other reasons.
It’s not a purely physical or sexual thing. If it was simply that I’d make a trip to Vegas and visit one of the many ranches and submit to the hormones raging around in my bloodstream. But it’s not sex and it’s not just having that person lying next to me in the bed. It’s going to sound strange to a lot of people, I suppose, but I felt her with me, all the time. She was a part of me, a joint portion of my existence and one of the things that kept me going every day.
It’s not just that I loved her or that I was attracted to her. Those are very important things, of course, but it takes more than that to be married. You can love someone and not like them very much. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true. There were times I didn’t like her very much. There were arguments that were so horrible and we both said such amazingly nasty things that I wasn’t sure how we’d get through them.
One of the worst involved my birthday. Even now my brother jokes that I handled it poorly, I was angry and stubborn and read more into the day than I should have and I said, as he’s fond of reminding me “it was my f#$%ing birthday!” I’d approached the day, hinted I wanted to go out, felt like I was always trying so hard and failing to get Andrea’s birthday right but never really getting the celebration she demanded. Friends from work surprised me with wanting to go out, got a sitter for the kids, planned everything out because they thought it was a big day to celebrate. But Andrea then felt left out and very angry that we were out and about with people. She was seething, told me I should just leave, got very snippy with me, then made the comment that I should stay with them. I still remember her making the claim “I’ll leave the house, pack up, and you can stay. I’ll lose weight, I’ll start doing my makeup again and I’ll find somebody else, it won’t be hard!” She left, mad at me and I didn’t follow, continuing to drink and look at my friends and brother like I’d been horribly wronged, even uttering that ugly phrase I wrote up there earlier.
It’s the only argument, the only angry utterance I remember verbatim. There are a couple reasons why, first, I realized I’d gone too far. I really was being selfish and we’d just had Hannah and just had to make to adjustment to being parents a second time. She was, we determined later, also quite depressed. That night a friend told me I needed to make a decision. I was married, I obviously loved her, and the statement that she’d find someone else really hurt. Not just that she’d leave, but that she’d make the effort and wouldn’t make the effort for me anymore.
“You need to either decide this is it, or you fight, Dave. You stay, you fight, and you make this work. The ball’s in your court. But whatever happens from this moment on, Dave, is on you. It’s your decision now.”
Then the phone rang. Andrea was still angry, but asked if I was coming home. I did, and there she was, in the house, waiting for me. She’d curled her hair. She’d put on her makeup, just like she’d done when we were dating, and was waiting in the living room for me with a flower and wearing a beautiful, burgundy neglige.
“This is why I wanted you to come home. This is why I was so angry,” she said sheepishly. “I just wanted to have the night . . . with you. That’s all.”
I have never felt so small, nor have I ever told my brother, my friends, none of them what happened after that argument. I still laugh at the line “it’s my f&*$ing birthday,” because let’s face it, it’s funny, but it is funny for other reasons to me. We definitely had other arguments. We had other rough times, some rougher than this, but I never forgot that advice. I fought. I made it work. And you know what I got? I got someone I didn’t just love. I liked being with her. When things went right, she’s the first person I called. When something funny happened I made a mental note to tell her as soon as I got home. She wasn’t my wife, she was my companion, my best friend, my buddy. I could joke with her, I could tickle her to get a rise out of her, and I could be geeky, goofy and silly and she’d play right along.
Now, that argument weighs on me. I think about the things she re-lives wherever she is. I think about the things I didn’t want her to know about myself that she already knew and sees through now. I worry I don’t feel her presence around me because she wonders where I was when she left, why I wasn’t there earlier. I worry she sees me as the man I was before she met me, not the man I have become. I miss her nervous, giggly laugh, I miss her smile, yes, but I don’t miss her, the physical. I miss my companion. I got an email from Rene Syler she wanted me to write for her site and I instinctively reached for the phone, only to remind myself she’s not there to tell. When I am so frustrated with the kids I want to tear my hair out I can’t look at her and ask her to wallow in misery with me.
I miss that person to bounce ideas off, to love, to play, to be with. I don’t miss her I miss all of her.
I felt like we were joined the day we married, but we were fused after that fight. We passed the 7-year-itch and survived and she was a stronger part of me, weaved into my soul. When she died, I felt that piece of me tear, rip and pull away. I really did. My entire being hurt because I didn’t just miss having that person next to me, there really was a hole in me, a tear in my body that won’t heal. It’s never going to heal, that’s what people don’t get, it doesn’t heal. You learn to live with it.
But I won’t learn to live without her. I have to do it. I don’t just miss . . . her. I miss her because I miss the person I was when she was with me.