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.
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 WhenCrazyMeetsExhaustion.com