Remember when this was fun? When the one person you wanted to see in the morning was me? When we worked a few hundred yards from one another, and I was repeatedly warned to stop visiting you? When we couldn’t wait to meet up at the end of the day and share all that had happened while we were apart?
Then something happened. Life got. . . fuller, faster. Now, our days aren’t highlighted by the moments when we get to stop and share our experiences, but the push of hours and we try to navigate our shared responsibilities.
Once, we rushed home to greet one another with an embrace. Now, we rush home, through dinner, and out the door. If there is an embrace it is an afterthought, and perhaps a nuisance to one or both of us as we negotiate who needs to be where, and who is taking them there; what needs to be done, and who is doing it; why there is fish food spilled on the couch, and who is cleaning it up?
It feels sometimes that as we’ve added to our family, added four wonderful, beautiful, amazing young men, we’ve also lost something – each other.
I’m not talking about the rapid, immersive, infatuation of new love. That’s just chemicals, and chemicals fade away. Instead, something deeper. Sometimes it feels as though my lifelong friend, the bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, has not disappeared, but been pushed aside, buried, in the race from one thing to the next, replaced with a union based on the need to get things done.
So, I want to take these few minutes, these few hundred words, to tell you that from my perspective nothing has changed. If I could sit with you in front of the TV and rewind this life of ours, back through the parade of years, and watch it again in slow-motion, you’d see that there in the background one thing has always remained the same. I’d point it out as our circumstances morph from one to the other, changing again and again. This river of our life flows across the bedrock of love, and speaking for myself, that love does not change as the days pour over it. It is as bright and strong today, as the sun in those first warm summer weeks when we began this life together.
Some suggest that we might grow apart, fall out of love, as the years pass. To the purveyors of that thought, I offer a strong, enthusiastic sentiment which is not appropriate for the pages of a family publication. When I lay long dead and the story of my life is told (if anyone cares enough to do the telling), it will be an awkward, punctuated tale; every other word will be of you.
Yes, life now is a deluge of work, trips, baseball, whose socks are on the floor, and whose underwear got in the wrong drawer; but this is not our life. These are just moments that happen in it. They are a thin varnish crusting the top, shining for but for a moment, soon cracking and giving way to something new. The base upon which these passing varnishes shine and fade is our love for one another, our life together; and whether that life continues to play out in the beauty of a tropical vacation, or the dark night of a hospital waiting room, as it has in that past, I’m in.
Nathan Hackman is a stay-at-home dad to four boys, one with cerebral palsy. He writes about the amazing adventure of parenting with a few extra challenges. In his free time he . . . doesn’t have free time.