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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Better As A Memory




It was never a lie. It may have been naivety, too much faith in a non-existent "cure", or wishful thinking; but it was never a lie.

Our wedding day was amazing for many reasons. Sure, I planned it basically all myself. Yes, it took my breath away to walk into the empty reception room and see everything as I had planned it. Everything I had hoped for. But, it was more than that....it was the dream that everyone hopes for. I was marrying my high school sweetheart. I was staying with the girl who had been at my side through so much. Dancing at prom together, laughing at stupid inside jokes, talking for hours about nothing, working together as "sandwich artists," dreaming of the future and all its possibilities, listening as I let out the secret pain and abuse I had suffered silently for so long with, crying at my side as my father, my mentor, left this life. She was there. She loved me and I loved her with all I understood love to mean. I loved her with all I had to offer.

4 years ago this weekend marks the shattering of so many of her dreams, my dreams, our dreams. It was a painful period in my life. I was giving up on the dream I felt I had wanted (and was supposed to have) for 27 years. This project I calculated, worked on, built, re-calcuated, was now ultimately destroyed. My pain would suddenly become hers too. In one phone call on the way to work it would be over. I would not beg her to stay or forgive and try again. I would no longer have someone to laugh, cry, hope, and dream with.

The next year and a half would be a time blurred with hate, anger, and pain that could only be inflicted between people who knew each other's every weakness. I have scars today still. Memories of pain that will never go away, but they have faded and the good times are cherished.

I have spent 7 months working on the Surgical Trauma unit in the Intermountain Medical Center. While I haven't seen it all and I am still surprised at times, I have seen a lot. I have watched patients die unexpectedly from injuries usually curable. I have seen patients recover from accidents hard to imagine as survivable. I have seen pain. I have watched men far too young lose use of their legs, women lose the chance to bare children before they even could fathom what that meant. I have seen physical pain every night. The scale of 1-10 is asked at every room visit. Pain is routine. I have seen emotional pain too. I have sat, carefully watching patients whose injuries weren't accidents, and whose emotional pain had driven them to try to end it all. I have seen pain.

I have also felt pain. I recall the broken ankle just a year ago that left me laying on my bed, going into shock, hoping my room mates would finally get me to the ER. Even a year later I can feel pain in that ankle with just the right weather or miscalculated step. But, that fades more and more. And four years later I can recall some of the emotional pain as a powerless father with children I couldn't see. I still have those scars and at the right moment I can feel the pain still. At the miscalculated bad day I can remember the broken heart at not seeing my sons have so many firsts. I can remember the pain of crying as I watched my sons drive away after a weekend, not knowing when the next weekend would come.

Yet, we survive and even the most complex bone break or the most painful heartache can be healed. We are remarkable creatures. Fragile, yet so strong. Life is a balance of delicate and powerful. Bones regrow stronger and, if we try, hearts can mend as well. The memory of pain dissipates. At the right moment we can catch glimpses of that pain, yet our minds have a knack of surviving it and moving forward. We even look back at the faded pain and gather strength from how we have recovered and grateful for the lessons we learned.

So 4 years later I can still remember the ugly, but in a faded way. I am grateful that I can't recall all the pain. We've moved past it. Sometimes the pain/anger/sadness catches like the ankle aches when a storm rolls in. Life isn't perfect, but we try.

I heard this song "Better As A Memory" and I made the connection to what I wrote about above. We loved each other. We stood side-by-side through so much. So many good times, so many sad. We buoyed each other up. And even through all the anger and pain at the end of our marriage we still work hard to rehab what is left and grow stronger everyday. There could be so much energy wasted in continuing to inflict pain, but we both realize things are better as a memory. The survivor's memory where pain is lessened and the good times shine through.

Life is complex, yet so simple. The complexity is usually as a result of self-doubt, fear, and naivety. I find that the complexities are usually of my own making. It has taken 4 years, but I think I am finally recognizing my own worth. Not the worth in terms of helping others or being involved in ways to make a difference. That worth has always been there for me. Today I realize my worth for that one. I am waking up to the idea that relationships aren't perfect....and shouldn't be. I am waking up to the idea that my imperfections and someone else's imperfections can be amazing when woven together.

We spend so much time making mental lists of exactly what Mr Right looks like. We set rules of what we want and don't want. We make things complex. The simplicity of it all is that Mr Right just needs to be a man that sees the beauty of our imperfections, loves even when things aren't so loveable, willing to be honest when honesty isn't convenient, willing to strong when strength is needed, and willing to submit to weakness when weakness may seem pathetic .

I joke at work when we pass on report that the significant other in a room is either married or just a bf/gf all based on how they act. The married spouse is there, but tends to spend their time on the couch or involved in so many things with the practicals of the patients care. The dating couple tends to be the ones sharing the hospital bed and jumping at every whimper or need. The exception to this rule is the one I love to see. I love seeing the old married couples that are knit together. They have that beautiful mix of the above. They have spent their lives as best friends and confidants. They have managed to not sweat the complexities and keep things simple. They value the imperfections that make us so beautiful. They have grown as individuals and tied themselves together not as one uniform rope but a web of individual strands intertwining enough to build strength, but separated enough to shine individually. They don't always stay the night, but they understand the beauty of missing each other at times. They understand the beauty of that "Good morning baby" as they walk in. They understand the beauty of being there becuse they want to, not just because they covenanted to.

Life is beautiful. Never perfect, but pretty awesome. I have gained more insight into truly believing my favorite quote: "I may not be perfect, but parts of me are pretty awesome." I am learning that Mr Perfect may exist at first glance, but it usually fades. I am learning that wanting a perfect guy is different than truly needing the imperfections that will make our web strong. After all a broken bone may seem like an imperfection, but we know that where bones were once broken they grow stronger.

4 years later our friendship grows. I am "better as a memory than as her man." We have grown stronger and wish her even more strength. I wish her to learn the value of herself. Not the boastful, prideful kind, but the value in understanding that both her imperfections and awesomeness are a package worth so much. I hope to continue to learn that too. I no longer want an exact Mr Right or a Mr Perfect. While not wanting a Mr Wrong, I am learning that want I want and what I need are not always on the same page. I am learning that letting go and just accepting can far surpass all I had hoped for.

So I celebrate this weekend with both the faded memory of yesterday's pain and the joy/serenity of living life authentically. The scars still exist, but strength does too. But after all, I hear scars are sexy.

So here is to life and old age. Here is to our friendship and the hope that so many more in similar situations find it. Here is to us finding our Mr Beautifully Imperfect. And here is to the knowledge that if he never shows that we will be that old couple together as friends. Peacefully celebrating our friendship and our family as we move on from this life.