A couple weeks ago I wrote a piece for Rene Syler’s website Good Enough Mother. In it, I detailed what happened over the last couple years with my relationship to my late-wife’s memory. I compared it to a pedestal, the memory there on top, built by the love affair and good intentions and beautiful memories.
I likened it to falling out of love, or perhaps more appropriately, shielding myself from the love I felt. Seeing her, hearing her, seeing our children, all of those things reminded me of Andrea. Sometimes, without realizing it, we belittle the things that hurt or the events that preceded today in an effort to minimize the pain.
So let me tell you what you don’t know.
I loved my late wife.
The madness wasn’t hers, it was mine. I was enamored with her and she had a strong, vibrant personality. Good or ill, I couldn’t tell her no. I couldn’t bring myself to disappoint her. Had I looked at the reality of our marriage I would have seen there really was no disappointment there. She loved me, too.
I could never have become the man I am today without having known her. Could I have gotten here, done this? Maybe. Probably. But the push to get the career I have and the writing I do all stems from her belief in me. When we met we both worked in a small station that didn’t even broadcast over the air, we were a local cable news operation. I never thought I’d get to a bigger market without going to some tiny affiliate in the middle of nowhere. So when an overnight editing position opened up in the local market – Omaha – and they were willing to let me come on board my wife didn’t flinch. She told me that once I was inside they’d hire me for the next full-time photographer job. She was convinced of it. She believed in me. Bear in mind . . . we had a baby girl and she was back in school. I was working two part-time jobs and playing gigs in bars as a musician on weekends to make ends meet. I traded one part-time gig for this overnight editing position and she didn’t care. She believed I’d succeed.
I keep getting blog postings and emails and twitter feeds that have blog posts stating how children changed everything. That women worried husbands didn’t see them as sexy or men thought women wanted only an extra hand in the house and didn’t think their wives were happy to see them. Sure, there were those days in my past. Every marriage has those days. We had amazing, starstruck, intense early days before kids. I do think sometimes that our marriage suffered a little, but not because of my children but because we didn’t spend enough time as a couple first. It’s not like we decided after a year to have a child, it just happened. We couldn’t change that.
But we also had amazing times as parents. After our first child was born I never saw Andrea as less than she was before. I still couldn’t wait to have her in the bed next to me and loved the feeling of the curves of her body fitting into the perfect positions next to mine. When she smiled her eyes twinkled. I know that sounds star-struck and a bit too much like I’m enamored with the romance. It’s not, though. It’s true. When Andrea suffered a bout of depression the sparkle disappeared. I mean completely disappeared and I saw how much that pained her. When she came out of it that sparkle was back.
Andrea was innovative, happy, intense and fun. That’s the thing . . . she was fun. At a time in my life when I was just a little bitter, coming off the teenage angry mode many boys have she showed me it was okay to loosen up a little and be happy and act the fool because it’s fun to run around with abandon. She told me I taught her that it wasn’t good to run around with abandon 24/7. I feel like at the time we were what the other needed.
Today I’m a different man. Had she stayed I think she’d be proud of the things we’ve done and the adventures we’ve had. One thing I realized is that life is too short to sit at home and wonder what it would be like to do something…when I took the kids to the Big Tree Park and saw giant sequoias they were skeptical . . . and then climbed the trees.
We fed parrots at a bird sanctuary on the way back from my oldest daughter’s move to college.
My children have all the greatest parts of their mother. Sure, they have some of the bad parts, too, but they have a lot of my bad pieces as well. I’ve always said that we love people because of everything they are. We love them for the bad things and adore them for the good. My kids are all their own people but they all have that sparkle in their eyes.
For so long I avoided facing Andrea in my house. We had pictures up, we had decorator items…but then I started making it our home, not the home Andrea designed with me. So when I embraced the final piece of control in our home . . . it was like letting her back in for all to see.
My kids smile. My music soars. My home comforts . . . and suddenly . . . she’s there again and it makes us all pretty happy.