Three years ago today, Brendan and I had plans to marry at 7pm. We both showed up, and we both agree it was the best day of our lives so far.
We have relied on each other for comfort, strength, and support. We have not stopped saying "I love you" ten times a day. We have grown together, a lot, both in ways that we did and did not imagine. We consider ourselves lucky. We say that daily.
Yesterday, we went to see the BFG. We both loved the movie, and the timing of it was perfect. The movie speaks so eloquently about how, though our lives are not so significant in the grand scheme of things, our lives are all we have. This time is it. And that makes the decision to spend it with another person, to give literally all you have, a most meaningful commitment.
At one point, the giant reminds Sophie, the protagonist, that there will be "hard and soft times," times for adventure, laughter, and despair. Above all, that every story will have a beginning and an end. This affected me greatly. Honestly because my grandmother is not doing well. At 98, she is nearing her end. I got this news on Saturday. We had a get together with Brendan's family, which feels truly as if they have always been my family. It was a great evening, but when I got home, my dad gave me the news that things were probably not going to turn around for Mimi. The news was difficult only because I don't want her to leave, despite the fact that I know she has led a most beautiful life, despite the fact that she reminded me, many times, that she would not live forever. No one probably ever feels that they had enough time, but I think Mimi felt closer to it than most. My dad reminded me on Saturday of how long and how much Mimi has fought. The reasons this should be her ending are logical; but human hearts are not logical things. I did cry, very much. A part of my own life is ending: Mimi is my last living grandparent, the matriarch of the family, and our family's historical record keeper. I cannot imagine my life without her, and yet, I won't get a choice. All stories end. All endings, no matter what, feel tragic.
When I found Brendan, I knew I could share laughter with him; in our home, we rarely stop making up silly jokes, songs, or words. After all, our shared sense of humor made us fast friends to begin with. I knew Brendan would be up for adventure: a month into our relationship, Brendan accompanied me to Las Vegas to share Thanksgiving with my family. Around 11pm Wednesday night, we went grocery shopping with my brother, the meal a complete afterthought. Graham does not use produce bags. Loose fruits and vegetables rolled around the backseat of the rental car, and on our way back to the condo, we were slightly lost. It was clear my family is a little...different. Brendan didn't mind. It was just fun. I thought this is a person that will always be good to have along.
These early memories of our relationship are wonderful ones, but truthfully, I also figured out early on how Brendan would handle despair. Before our relationship began, I'd had my only experience with true depression. As a friend, Brendan helped me climb out (and several other friends were there, constant sources of support, too). A month later, our dear family friend, Jesse, like a brother to me, passed away at age 21. I felt crushed, shocked, off center. Brendan was there in all these times. He has never shied away from the difficult. I knew that would make him the best partner in life, the one that would be okay in "hard and soft" times.
So we had another quiet moment on Saturday of feeling despair. Mimi is still alive, but she isn't doing well. In May, I thought it may be our last visit, but I didn't want to be right. Brendan was there for me in the way I needed him to be: simply there, willing to face the despair, willing to call it what it is. Knowing we can't make it better is tough. Knowing this is the end is hard to fathom. We are closer, at least we hope, to the beginning of our lives.
At Starbucks yesterday, a man started talking to us about his divorce. People approach us and tell us everything with an alarming frequency. Maybe we're just good listeners. Maybe a lot of people are just lonely. I felt bad for him. I don't know what this man's story is. When two lives intertwine for years, it becomes complicated beyond measure. But I do guess that many marriages are formed because of how people find laughter and adventure. I do know that people handle despair differently and that these differences can cause profound schisms. So my suggestion is look for the person that handles despair as gracefully as laughter and adventure because life is all of those things. When two people marry, they start a new beginning, but they already are choosing the person who will be there for them in the end.
Brendan, the best thing I ever did was choose you.
Happy three years. I love you.