A Moment in My Life – Monday, September 14, 2020
I want to know what love is. I want to feel what love is. But was love in the cards for me? For the longest time, I didn’t think I would ever get to experience it. Sure, we have to play the numbers game. For me, it wasn’t many, but scars from heartache, disappointment, and hurt with one person was one number too many.
Then one day, Mark and I met and went on our first date. I thought he was a nice guy. We went out and had a good time, and that was that. I was on the rebound and wasn’t looking for a relationship, so it didn’t matter if we had a second date. Had my mother not insisted that I not see him again, I might not have gone out with him another time. Once, mother said, “I forbid you to see him again,” fate decided the course. We went on a second date, then a third, and six months later, he proposed.
When you first meet someone, how do you know that you found the love of your life? Not everybody experiences the fairy tale love at first sight. Some people couldn’t stand each other and fought like crazy, but they became a successful couple. So, how do you know? For me, it wasn’t love at first sight, but we didn’t fight either. We enjoyed being together, and I dreaded the moment he drove me closer and closer home after each date. Was that enough for a lifetime relationship? Was that love of the forever kind? I didn’t know. I wanted to believe it was. The proposal brought both waves of excitement and doubt. It didn’t help that my family wasn’t thrilled about it, either. I had nobody to seek advice from, so I took a leap of faith and said, “Yes,” to his proposal.
All I had to go by was the old saying, ‘only time will tell,’ and it did. Mark and I spent 36 years together, 34 of them, as husband and wife. We went through a lifetime of trials stemming from financial struggles, more than our share of illnesses, to family acceptance issues. One of these situations alone would have destroyed a marriage, and here we were blessed with an abundance of each.
Through each trial, we learned a bit more about each other and our strengths and weaknesses. We discovered who we were when nobody else was around. We created a home and a life together with similar goals, perspectives, expectations, and preferences with a splash of differences to keep things interesting. We earned each other’s respect and trust, both equally important in any relationship.
Our love for each other grew like branches from an ancient tree that has weathered every imaginable storm. He loved me at my best and my worst. I was free to be me, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and he thought I was the most beautiful person he knew.
We entered our marriage with my hobbies and my tastes, and his hobbies and his tastes, which mingled together and became our hobbies and our tastes. Occasionally, a few didn’t make the cut, but that’s okay. Nobody says a perfect marriage can’t have his time and her time, making for a healthy relationship. The important thing was that we loved being together, whether it was traveling afar or cruising or vegging at home.
He believed in me when few others, myself included, did. He encouraged me to follow my dreams and to do anything that I wanted to do in my life. He was my biggest cheerleader. He was only a year older than me, but he was so much more knowledgeable about everything. He taught me more than I could have learned on my own. He used to say, “Don’t ask me how I know that. I just do. I don’t know everything, but I know a little about a lot of things.” A little about a lot of things came in handy, that’s for sure.
During my early years, I was plagued with illnesses, and right after our wedding, I became pretty sick. Through that illness and the many future ones, Mark stuck by me, never complaining or regretting marrying me. He was someone I could count on in my worst moments.
Later in our years together, it was Mark’s turn to face health challenges. From my track record, we both thought I would be the first to go. When he was diagnosed with cancer, the doctor was surprised that he had been a Kaiser member since he was a kid because his file was paper-thin, but soon all that would change when that file became an inch thick. During the last eight years of Mark’s life, I got to repay him for all the years he took care of me during my illnesses.
We honored our vows, ’for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part,“ and Mark showed me every day what love is and what love feels like. He unwittingly also showed me what loss is and what that feels like, too—the one lesson that I wish he hadn’t taught me.
My takeaway, I’ve been blessed with knowing what love is and what love feels like from living my life with my best friend, partner-in-crime, at times my brother, at times my parent and at times my child, and most of all, my soulmate for life.