(I borrowed that from Peter Gabriel.)
My husband and I were such opposites. We were the poster children for the saying “opposites attract.” He was math…I was reading. He was science…I was all about the arts. He was smart. I stood next to him.
We were meant to be.
In spite of our differences we seemed to understand each other. Or we made a pretty good stab at it. At any rate…we had a hell of a lot of fun together. Now that I think about it…it could have been because we never had any idea what the other person was talking about.
I think part of our success was that we both appreciated the strengths we each brought to the relationship and could explain things to the other person that they had no clue about. I could tell him why he was supposed to tear up during the opera. He could tell me why the shuttle exploded. I could tell him the hidden meaning behind the latest novel (that he hadn’t read) and he could explain the inner workings of a Pontiac GTA. He could say something really smart. And I could stand next to him.
Nothing makes a successful marriage like a good smile and nod combo.
The first time I realized how little we understood each other was our first Christmas together. It was a hellish event because we couldn’t go anywhere and we were on our own. My husband worked in the space program and had a launch right around the holidays. So (thank you, Air Force) we couldn’t go anywhere for a couple of months.
But as we all figure out, sooner or later, it’s those trying moments we actually remember the most. The first Christmas (or celebration) with no money when we’re looking at someone across a dried up baked turkey breast thinking, “I married who????”
I cried all day that year. But now I look back on it with great nostalgia.
One of the things I remember the most about that year was the gift my husband gave me. We had no money and were doing everything we could to make things work. He gave me several things that year…one of which was a ring that was nothing amazing yet something I will always treasure. But the gift I remember the most was a department store shirt box with a pile of piano sheet music in it.
My husband, the rocket scientist, had gone to a music store and picked out music for me. Even now I’m speechless when I think about this present. Mainly because it contained a bunch of music I didn’t have the talent to play.
But on that Christmas morning, when I opened that box, my husband led me to the piano, opened a copy of “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin and said, “Here. Play.”
Now, for those of you who don’t know about much about music…imagine what a piece of paper would look like if the composer sneezed ink all over it. And then imagine how you would feel if someone told you to play what he had sneezed.
I was lost. I had no idea even where to start with that music.
I can’t even tell you why I started thinking about that today. Maybe it was because my 4 year old was banging away at the piano tonight. Maybe it was because I was cursing the fact that my husband isn’t here to help my daughter with long division. Maybe it was because we were having one of those close moments as a family that I just wished with all my heart he could have been a part of.
But for some reason I started thinking about how lost I felt when he handed me that box. And I realized that I’ve felt that way for a long time. But instead of music, it’s as if someone handed me a box full of grief and said, “Here. Play.”
I guess I’ll just have to do what I did then.
I’ll take it one note at a time.