Dear Husband…. so yeah, yeah—- our mattress sags in the middle.
You can see it, even when the sheets are pulled up taut, how the springs at the centre have been flattened by the sheer weight of glory.
You and I and this becoming of us.
Some would say this has been boring, this every day love of us.
It’s been decades of this, happening after the days, us there in the dark:
We roll to the middle of the mattress, you and I, finding each other in the valleys.
Who knew that every valley is being held in the valley of cupped hands?
There have been too many of those valleys to count.
The night after her funeral. We clung quiet to each other in the middle, the springs sagging silently under us, the words scraped raw from the sides of us.
The dark you cupped me through after my heart had been sledge-hammered and I couldn’t seem to pull all the shards out.
You said the scars became me —- that they had made me become.
I forgot to shave my legs. You said it never mattered. My waist thickened and rolled and softened, stretch-marked thin over this love of ours that grew me larger. My sagging, rounded mother body wears it like a badge: I’ve surrendered to love in a thousand ways.
And you pull all of me close. You whisper it there warm at the nape of my neck, tell me that I’m your trophy bride: we’ve won real love and wear the battled age to prove it.
And yeah, sure, we’ve felt it too, in the hollow of some awful nights, laying there in the middle of the mattress, in our own valley of dry bones:
We married wrong.
Don’t buy what anybody else is selling: Everyone always marry wrong.
Because what’s wrong in the world is always us.
Marriage and love and time, these are the enormous forces that inevitably chisel and change us into strangers. The springs sag. Mattresses sigh. Marriage changes us into strangers who have to meet again and introduce each other to love.
None of us ever know whom we marry. And falling in love never made anyone angels… it’s only made it clear how far we’ve fallen. Who we say ‘I do’ to — is not who we roll over to touch twenty years later. The challenge for the vows is to fall in love with the stranger to whom you find yourself married.
The vows are a vow to make the stranger you marry — come to intimately know love everyday.
This is the only way we become married to the right people.
And you have been smacked by my flaws, slack-jawed by my flaws, and it ain’t been Hallmark pretty. It’s been holy. You’d think after a lifetime of Sunday sermons I would have known that this is what real love always does—- goes to hell and back for each other. Thank you.
Thank you for never mentioning the burnt soup, the piles of unmatched socks, the ring around the bathtub — thank you for keeping the covenant of the eyes and the vow that rings round us. The real romantics know that stretchmarks are beauty marks, and that different shaped women fit into the different shapes of men souls, and that real romance is really sacrifice.
So Hallmark and Hollywood can position their glossy anyway they’d like, but the guy buying chocolates for the lady who lost it with him last week (that would be you and I), well, we can see right through it: Love without Truth isn’t reality— it’s sentimentality. And Truth without Love isn’t sustainable —- it’s terminal.
Real Love truthfully sees the flaws — and still really loves fully.
Love isn’t blind — Love is the only way of really seeing. You have loved me real.
And I have loved you as the hero-of-few-words who has rescued me day in and day out, without any fanfare or flash.
You have been brave and let yourself love. Which means you’ve let your heart be busted and banged up and this has kept you tenderized and soft. I am sorry. I. am. sorry.
What else would have kept us alive and real and from growing hard?
They didn’t tell us that at the beginning: The moment you let love into your heart, your heart starts breaking. The only way to stop your heart from breaking is to stop your heart from loving. You always get to choose: either a hard heart or a broken heart. A broken heart is always the abundant heart — all those many beautiful pieces only evidence of an abundant life.
We could promise each other — to carry the abundant, shattered hearts carefully —- full of care.
This is Gospel, this is what Christ did: Make yourself vulnerable, and you make yourself irresistible. This is what Love does. You have lived Gospel to me.
The reward of loving is in the loving; loving is itself the great outcome of loving.
The success of loving is in how we change because we kept on loving – regardless of any thing else changing.
The value of loving is in the value of being like Christ.
You have lived and bore the weight of it —- I am far worse than I ever dreamed. And yet you have loved me beyond what I could ever dream. You have lived Gospel to me.
It’s happening without any headlines: our hearts are quietly boring into each other, us just letting our fingers find each other, our eyes linger. Boring love is what drills wells that taste like wine.
So yeah, yeah — so what if the mattress sags and gives way in the centre? The self-centredness of the two giving way to this rolling down into the middle and into a glorious one.
You and I entangled in these romanced cotton sheets of an old and practiced grace.