The Things She Carried

In the wake of any relationship’s conclusion, via break-up or death, we carry pieces of that person with us long after their face fades from sight. Without warning, we can be transported back into time. Bette Midler’s “The Rose” triggers memories of my Grandmother’s funeral. One whiff of Calvin Klein’s Obsession takes me back to the times I pretended to be asleep so my dad would scoop me up, hold me against his chest, and carry me to bed.

Recently, I have begun subconsciously noting things that I expect I will remember long after the moments have passed. I’ve yet to decide if it’s morbid or sentimental. For instance, my husband has a small obsession with trees. And by small, I mean he would quit his day job and become an arborist in .4 seconds. We’ll be driving along and he’ll totally forget he’s in charge of the steering wheel to point out a “stately oak” or a “beautiful red maple.” The kids seem interested enough, but me? Truth be told, I’m usually rolling my eyes.

However, when The Husband is not around, I find myself yelling out tree names with such enthusiasm that I wonder if someone spiked my green tea.


When it’s just me and the kids, I do the things that my husband would do: I turn up the same Rolling Stones song we’ve listened to a quadrillion times, count the American flags we pass during our walks, etc. While part of me thinks I am legally bound to do these things (isn’t that why we sign the marriage license?), another part of me thinks it’s my way of keeping a piece of my husband with us even when he’s not physically present.

Morbid? Sentimental?

At first, I couldn’t understand why I was doing this. It kinda freaked me out. Why did I feel so compelled to recreate such seemingly insignificant Slivers o’ Husband in his absence? It’s not like he’s gone on business or deployed for months at a time; we eat dinner together every night! So I thought (and secretly feared) that I had morphed into one of those women who swoons over her husband’s stamp of approval. But that ain’t it: we’ve been together for years, and I fully intend to continue ridiculing his terrible fashion sense, and I have zero inclination to adopt his love of mulch. But I can’t ignore the subtle reminders that connect us even when we’re apart.

I distinctly remember t

he line in Jerry Maguire that every girl wanted to hear from her beloved, “you complete me,” making me want to vomit. No incomplete dudes for me, thankyouverymuch. I used to think that believing another someone would make me WHOLE was, in a word, pathetic.

But I think I get it now.

Husband and I aren’t at the beginning stages of our relationship where every encounter begets butterflies, but where we are may be even better. Like any team that has played together for a few seasons, weathering the losses and triumphing in the wins as a cohesive unit, we have found our niche. He has become a part of me, high white socks in sandals and all. Even though I would still like to rewrite the Jerry Maguire line to read something like, “You complement me nicely,” I can at least appreciate the sentiment.



The Things She Carried was first published on

Photo Credit: shaymus22 via photopin cc

About StephanieJ

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  1. I do this!! I’m so glad to learn I’m not the only one. My husband travels a lot and when he’s away I find myself listening to songs that he loves (ones I might actually protest were we riding in the car together), watching sports (WTF), among numerous other things that are just a little reminder. But you’re exactly right – while I am very independent by nature, after so many years, each of us has become a half of a union that, when separate, makes an incomplete whole.

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  2. Stephanie says:

    I do this too. My husband works long hours and I find myself bringing him into conversations with the kids or mentioning whether he would enjoy something we are doing or laughing about how much he may hate a song we are listening to (dub step, perhaps!) I also do the same if one of the kids isn’t with us or I’ll mention my parents or my husbands parents if we see or do something that reminds me of them. Back to the husband part: for me, it’s helps me appreciate him – that he works hard so I can work less and enjoy exactly those moments with the kids. He’s sacrificing and I’m acknowledging. Maybe? That’s one of my thoughts on it anyway.

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  3. I do that too. Like when I rip a giant belch. Just kidding. ;)

    I know exactly what you mean. About the Jerry Maguire line and about being a really nice complement to one another. Especially because Hubbinator and I are so different–a very yin and yang thing going on over here–I feel like bringing some of him into my days helps me keep things balanced. But just little bits of him. Not the leaving the dirty clothes on the floor by the bed part. Nope. Not that part.

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  4. So sweet and sentimental, Steph!

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  5. Mrs.Birdman says:

    “You complement me nicely”. Love it! Great post!

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  1. [...] decide if I’m morbid or sentimental. According to the comments, I’m not the only person who carries pieces of my better half with me, so I can’t be that morbid. Not, like, literal pieces because ewww. That’s beyond [...]

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