That’s my wife and I in the picture. We are standing in front of an abandoned factory in Massachusetts. My son took the picture.
It’s hard to tell it’s us unless you know our profile. We are in silhouette against the bright light behind us where the roof long ago collapsed. People who know me well know I have a weakness for old and abandoned places. I feel a kinship with them and those kinds of images often illustrate my poems.
This picture has taken on new meaning this past year. It’s been a rough year for the two of us. I won’t go down the litany of struggles that we have had to deal with in the past 18 months, but it is long enough it would likely have you worried that we might go postal. Health, financial, emotional, it’s quite the list of stuff.
We are coming out of it.
I have come to love this picture because of what it represents to me. Two people, with a world crashing in around them, who stood firm with each other in love. It’s what a marriage is supposed to be, but we all know that is not what always happens. Often the crashing in pulls people apart. Often we are alone when things come undone. Often we come though things more scarred than saved.
We are coming up on our third anniversary, and I am still in wonderment. This morning we sat at the table talking over coffee. I’m not a talker. Conversation comes hard to me. And morning conversation comes hardest. But something about this woman… I love talking with her. When it was time to get myself going, do my morning writing and start my day, I really didn’t want to. I just wanted to sit at the table all morning, sip coffee and talk.
Sometimes, being disciplined sucks. But marriage? Yeah, it’s worked out good.
It’s not always easy, being married. It never is, but I think it is harder the second time around when you have a few years on you. (Or in my case, 64 of them). You are set in your ways. There’s a cartload of baggage. Anything can be a trigger for past pains.
Part of me was afraid of relationship when she came into my life. A failed marriage. Another long term relationship that had come undone. I didn’t think of myself as good relationship material any more. I believed that my concept of what marriage was supposed to be probably odd and perhaps outdated.
But chemistry is powerful stuff. And here we are.
Looking over the past 18 months, both of our lives might have been easier in some ways were we not together. She would not have had to deal with my cancer, surgery and rehab. I would not have had to deal with some of the blows that hit her life. But we would have had to go through them alone. We probably could have. But how much better to have each other, to be able to lean on and count on each other.
That’s not what you are thinking when you meet and the chemistry is crazy good. But it’s the meat and muscle of love, helping each other through things. Being there when things come undone. There’s work in it, but there is also power in it.
And that is why I love this picture. Stuff has come undone this past year and half. I won’t lie. It’s been hard. But there we are, arms around each other. Survivors. And still in love.
I write of it because here I write about my own life. Often, because I write early in the morning when I am still shaking off the shackles of early morning depression, that writing is darker than my life actually is. The writing is like a snake shedding its skin. Too often in my poems, you get to see the dried old skin as fresh new me slithers out for a new day.
But that is not my whole life by any means. I love my life now, and this unexpected love is a big part of the reason. I had no reason to expect it, or even hope for it. Certainly, I did nothing to deserve it. And yet, here I am.
The old adage is true, evidently. It’s never too late. No matter how late it is.
Be well. Travel wisely,