“Do you want to talk again, maybe tomorrow?” he asked from his bachelor pad in balmy Texas.
“Sure, if neither one of us dies before then,” I responded through huffs and puffs of cold Minnesota air.
I was walking briskly up College Street, autumn leaves crunching underfoot.
He thought it strange the way I ended that third phone call. But you have to understand it had been no more than six months since the previous winter when I’d found myself sitting in that mental ward.
I was making a slow recovery from depression, trying my luck at a few random classes in community college after having dropped out of a pricey private institution.
With a BBA, he was in his second year of a new job in the finance industry.
We were both living single and lonely in small apartments. Both dejected from recent life failures, we had recently both shut ourselves away from family and friends.
Apparently he found something intriguing in my dark humor and brooding ways. As well, he’d liked the pictures my bff, and our matchmaker, Samantha, had shown him. It was before the days of Facebook, so I would wait until our first live meeting about a month later to see him. No matter. His voice, smooth and soothing, already gave me goosebumps.
“What are you doing tonight?” he would start our phone conversations, which quickly became daily affairs, usually no less than four hours at a pop.
I couldn’t believe how attentive he was. He actually wanted me to read my journals out loud to him, which I did.
“I’m taking a walk/organizing my closet/doing dishes [pick one—these were all true over the months of phone dating…and all due to that nervous, post-depression energy I suffered in those days]. What are you up to?”
“I’m just lying here, thinking about you.”
Each night on his primitive, 2004-model cell phone, he gave me his full attention, something I was not used to with males. The previous two men in my life I had met at my workplace, a restaurant, and the relationships had always been about what I could do for them. The boy I had loved in high school (a much nicer guy than these two) ended up having precious little time for me after going gay.
I wish I could say that I unreservedly returned Buc’s affection in the beginning. But every true love story must have a complication, mustn’t it?
Sigh. After dropping out of college, I’d struck up a conversation with my most recent ex (he’d since been fired from his dishwashing job at the restaurant). This happened a couple months before I met Buc.
The first contact I’d had in about six months with this dude (who shall remain nameless) started with him telling me he’d love to get together—but I’d have to go to him, because he was under house arrest at the moment.
Instead of running the other way like I should have, guess what I did?
I got physically and emotionally involved. Again. Apparently I was attracted to his brooding ways. I identified with his suicidal tendencies, and as lonely as I was, well, any guy was better than none.
Lord forgive me. And Buc forgive me too. How stupid I was.
It should have been an easy choice. Let me put it this way:
- One had three kids, the other had none.
- One was unemployed, the other a successful broker.
- One had a criminal record, and the other? Nary a traffic ticket.
- One had a history of drug and alcohol use, the other, a history of jalapeno abuse.
- One was a broken deadbeat who needed me to rescue him, while the other was a broken believer who wanted to rescue me.
Gee. I wonder who I should choose?
You might say I could have chosen neither. I could have accepted the newspaper editor job I’d been offered–but that didn’t pay anything (college newspaper, you see), and I was already out of money—plus, that restaurant where I’d picked up the last two losers had just gone bankrupt.
No, as the months went on that fall of 2004, it became clear that God was propelling me to make a choice. A drastic choice. Doors were closing all around me, and I literally didn’t feel strong enough to go it alone. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that God was with me—but sometimes we are so low (or so delusional) that we need God’s hands to reach out, take hold of us, and give us a good shake through the hands of another.
“Think about what you’re doing!” Buc would cry in frustration as I lamented to him that I loved both of them. “Why is it even a choice?”
One night he almost gave up on me. I had waffled again, saying I needed to take a break from both to sort myself out. Meanwhile, he prayed for a sign.
“God,” he prayed several days into this separation, “if she calls tonight, then I know you want us together. If she doesn’t, then we’re not meant to be.”
That night when I called, I don’t remember what I said. I know I was not totally convinced one way or the other, but God didn’t need me to be ready just yet.
Buc took this as his sign, and I’m so glad he did. After this, I waffled another time or two, but he didn’t give up on me. He trusted God, even though my utterly stupid behavior baffled and hurt him.
I think I owe our eight years of marriage to my husband’s faith, a faith I have seen again and again over the years when his job was uncertain, or I was uncertain, and he prayed for a sign, received his answer, and made up his mind not to worry because, as he simply and calmly explained, “It’s God’s plan.”
It’s a faith I’m still hoping to develop.
I saw it again just this week, as he faced a job-threatening audit at his branch. Yep, my hubby has become the manager at a top-notch financial branch, and earned plenty of top-performer awards and trips along the way. (Just for kicks, I googled my ex last year and saw his gnarled face and tattoos pop up in a mug shot for a domestic dispute. Gulp! To think I could have married that!)
“I could get fired,” Buc announced coming home a few days ago. “But if I do, I know it’s God’s plan.”
Since I’ve been staying home, I’ve told him many times I wish he could stay home with me. I get so lonely.
“Well, maybe getting fired would be a blessing—we could spend all day together,” I quipped.
Seems all this alone time is not good for the logic—it’s his awesome job that’s currently allowing me to “write to my roots.” But no matter how I’ve spent my time in the past few years, home or not, my desire to be by my hubby’s side continues to grow.
As I awaken to the beauty and possibility around me little by little (because rediscovering family, God, and dreams after deep depression happens gradually), I realize more and more what a jewel I have right beside me. What do I need a wedding ring for? He is my rock, always returning to me at the end of the day.
Today, our phone calls are shorter, because they only last as long as it takes for him to drive the thirty to forty minutes home. (By the way, he’s still employed at that job that is too far away for my liking. “God’s will,” Buc said.) Still, he calls me every day. Kisses me every morning. The calls are a little less exciting than they used to be, more often filled with dinner plans or daily headlines than deep confessions of past sins or heated professions of love. After eight years, there’s not much we don’t know about each other. But though the conversation may have leveled off, the love never has. To the contrary, it has only grown.
Over eight years, as he’s helped “nurse me back” to mental health; talked me down from countless emotional cliffs; and worked day after day to clothe me, feed me, and shelter me, I am starting to “get it.”
His love for me is like God’s love–hoping all things, bearing all things, believing all things. I only hope that I will learn to love other human beings as much someday. Ever since moving to Texas, I’ve had a slow thaw in my heart. But I hope he knows that right now he’s got all the love I’ve got—with these melting icicles creating more room for him every day.
Honey, I thank God that you chose me, and even more, that I chose you! (Oh, how thankful I am that I made the right choice!)
(Blast from the past)
February 7, 2005, 8:14 a.m. (about a month before we got married)
When I imagine our life together I feel unspeakable joy. Especially today after setting our wedding date.
Last night—remember my tears of joy?—I felt, finally that I have something to hope for (on this earth), for you are my representation of Christ as the husband of humanity.
A place to belong, somewhere to fit—the knowledge that someone thinks I am special enough to invest in for a lifetime…darling, you don’t know what you have given me by asking me to share your life with you.
I am so blessed to have someone who loves and cares for me as a prized possession, yet at the same time respects me as a person. I can’t wait to be your family (even if it means making lunches and suppers and breakfasts sixty more years). To be with you every day will be a privilege and a joy. I hope you feel the same way.
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