My brother had visited for a week in the early part of July; we had Boone for ten days; we had my brother's older son CJ for four. I watched my husband serve all of them with love, and it meant everything. It was for me; I received it all as a gift. ("Jim is well on his way to becoming a saint," my brother said. "My boys needed you this summer," my sister-in-law said, hugging me.)
I'm so deeply thankful to be married to a family man: to have as my very own the guy who helps his mama buy a car. And then another car. He's a fixer, and sometimes I get aggravated by this, his best trait. Just listen to me, I tell him. Don't take it upon yourself, this time; just listen, and tell me you're sorry I'm upset. But don't I look to him for solutions over and over? We all do. He provides everything we need and so much of what we want. He's the dinner fixer, the boo-boo fixer.
We were in East Tennessee a week ago, and I asked him to drive us by the college. We pointed out to his mama the various dorms where we'd lived, the Center for Campus Ministry where we'd met. And then we decided to walk the Greenbelt like we had nineteen years before when we had no money, no kids, just imagination.
Nineteen years ago, Jim stashed a rose in a tree on the Greenbelt. Hours later, he pushed me up against that tree and kissed me, and like magic, when I opened my eyes, he was holding the rose. We tried and failed to find the tree, last week; we barely recognized the park, in general. "Things have a way of changing in nineteen years, Young'uns," his mama said. "But you have your memories."
And I wanted to say to her: yes, but the years are flying by, and we spent so much time apart, and we spend so much time, now, scrapping over the stupidest things. We love each other so desperately, but sometimes I wonder if we'll ever get it right. I love him, my fixer. He makes me wild in every respect: good and bad.
Saturday night, we took the tram to Ober Gatlinburg just as we had on our first date, before he'd presented that rose in the park. This time, we were surrounded by twenty-three others from our small group. I couldn't see a durn thing except people we love, including our four kids. I held the baby with one arm and clung to Jim with the other. He was, as always, steady as a rock.
Three days before, we'd passed the one-year anniversary of our miscarried child's due date. Two days before, we'd passed the one-year anniversary of Jim's gastric bypass. One life lost; one life saved; another trip around the sun. Still standing, still clinging. Six years married.