9 Days of Eternity

What is love? What is that thing that binds us to something other than our selves? That powerful emotion that makes us say what we don’t mean, do things we’d rather not do. I’ve been trying to define, for myself, what it means to me directly.
After all, love is the single most personal feeling a human can truly feel.
But what does that mean for me?
It’s been nine days since my wife has been home and when she left, it didn’t seem like such a long time. What’s nine days in the grand scheme of things? It’s not even two weeks. I figured, if nothing else, I would be busy looking after the kids and the house and that time would fly by. I’m a man after all, I can get by without help from anyone. I am pretty self sufficient. I can cook, clean, do laundry, stay on the kids to finish their homework, do my job and still find time to watch a movie with them or go to the school play.
That I am exhausted at the end of the day is not a big deal.
I’m Daddy. It’s what I do.
But what I didn’t count on was my complete inability to exist with purpose on my own. Aside from performing the basic functions of day to day life, from attending to the kids, what other reason did I have to be here? I’ve never really given thought of my place in the world or, for that matter, my reason for existing. Sure I have dreams and aspirations. Goals even. Everyone does. But what is driving me toward them? What makes then necessary to accomplish?
I’ve learned that my wife is that reason. She gives me purpose and a sense of direction.
When I met my wife, we were both recovering from darker periods in our lives, licking wounds we did nothing to earn but had received anyway. We became friends and it didn’t take all that long to realize that I had someone special in my life. And the thought terrified me to no end. I resisted that part of me that wanted to run headlong and heart first.
My heart was broken, shattered and left a smoldering ruin. My logical parts said there was nothing left worth giving anyway.
She was in pretty much the same boat.
And as we grew closer, we both felt that pain dissipate, the empty ruins filled again with a bit of hope. Though our lives together have been great, we did have moments were the road got more than bumpy. It broke. Yet somehow we have managed to survive in a world were no one seems to have the patience to sit through the bumps. If it doesn’t seem to work like it used to, people don’t bother to fix it. They simply toss it to the side and get a new toy.
I am glad that I never gave into that impulse.
If you asked me why, I suppose I would mumble something about love and my kids and not wanting to give up. And each of those things would be true. But this week I learned that there was more to it than that. Something that occurred in me on a subatomic level. A change in me that I never realized had taken place.
This last week I felt an ache growing, building. And I didn’t really know why. Something had shifted off. I tried to say busy, I tried to fill it with other things. I thought maybe I was just bored, looking to pass the time. But then it dawned on me. This pain is familiar. I know it.
As I tried to relax and consider my growing predicament, I realized that my heart was aching again. The holes torn into it so long ago were exposed.
I thought to myself that maybe I am just feeling lonely. And that was certainly part of it. But it was so much more than that. I felt out of place, lost. What happened? It didn’t make sense to me. I was talking to my wife over the phone one night, we were talking about her visit and how things were going and what the kids had been up to.
It was getting late and we were saying our good byes and I felt it. That familiar ache.
Ache is a powerfully descriptive word.
It implies yearning, a desperate need. A lack of something so profound that it causes pain. In nearly 15 years of marriage she has managed to fill the empty places in my life. In ways I had never really appreciated before. That pain helped me realize what was missing.
See, I have a theory about my broken heart. It never truly mended. Somethings are so broken they seem impossible to fix I suppose. I don’t believe that my heart was meant to be fixed so that it could exist on its own. Along the way I lost pieces of myself which made it impossible to fix. But my wife was the same exact way. Broken heart, pieces missing. Neither one with enough to parts left over to fix.
But what I realized is that our broken pieces fit each other. The two became something bigger. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
She didn’t mend my heart. She put her broken heart together with mine and what resulted was something neither of us expected.
A perfect working heart capable of love.
Who would have imagined it?
And when she had to leave for a while, my heart wasn’t able to function without hers. I’ve always known how important she was to me. What I never realized was just how much we needed each other. How much I need her. For the last nine days I have been half the man I thought I was. Incomplete and lost. Missing the very best part of me. Her smile, her laughter, feeling her turn in the night as she slept. A thousand little insignificant details you don’t think about until they are suddenly gone.
And you realize how empty your life could have been.
I’m not perfect, she’s not perfect but we are perfect for each other.
And that is all that really matters.
I am counting the minutes until I go to the airport tonight to get her. Her flight arrives at 10.
Tonight my heart comes home and I will be whole again.