Scott and I are copying fellow blogging couple extraordinaire, Amber and Seth Haines, in meme they started last week, letters to your spouse. You can read Scott’s letter here. This week we decided to write on “secret fantasies… for the future.” Don’t miss Seth and Amber’s letters this week. We wrote our letters independently, only exchanging after we finished writing. Clearly the mind-meld is working.
No no no, that isn’t right. That sounds stupid.
Pardon me. I lapsed into The Chris Farley Show for a second. [And I have you to thank for that.]
Where was I? Oh yes. Kauai. I wanted to tell you that I daydream about returning to Kauai. Often.
I’m not upset that we didn’t keep our promise. That’s part of being responsible adults. We had student loans, new jobs with no vacation time, and rent payments. We decided we would go back for our fifth anniversary, but then we had a baby.
When Elli was born with all those heart defects, we knew our lives had changed. Suddenly life was overflowing, between the frequent hospital visits and surgeries, the intensity of her needs, our own exhaustion, and my new job as her nurse (because I was the best person for the job and my lost salary was cheaper than hiring a nurse). Now we have three more children. We have to plan for braces and school and weddings, and we have a house to maintain. We know we probably won’t see Hawaii again until the kids are out of the house.
None of that stops me from dreaming of that second honeymoon, though. Sunday afternoons I click “surf” on our sound spa, burrow under the blankets, close my eyes, and imagine that I’m dozing on a bed yards from the waves. I imagine sipping smoothies on the lanai at sunrise, roaming the beaches, swimming the surf, and sailing around the island where we spent those early days of our marriage.
My memories of that time are like a photograph with the exposure maxed out and the shadows chased away. We were two exuberant 20-somethings delighting in young love, taking our very own vacation, setting our own agenda, and not having to part ways at the end of the day. The future looked as easy as the sunny laid-back Hawaiian islands.
We were blissfully ignorant of the shadows and darkness hovering just ahead. We had no idea that the light would disappear and the shadows would take over just 18 months after we snorkeled off the Napali Coast. We didn’t think that ten years and six months later, we’d sob into the hospital sheet covering our dead daughter. We couldn’t imagine giving shots and inserting feeding tubes and measuring in metric.
Sometimes I cry when I daydream about a second honeymoon. I think I’m mourning for the people we used to be, for the loss of innocence. No-one emerges from the valley of the shadow of death unchanged. We are no exception.
But the tears never last long. I’ve discovered that pictures look better with some shadow, with contrast between light and dark. My fantasies for our future aren’t over-exposed and dreamy. We are who we are because of the valleys, the tears, and the shadows. Why would I try to wash part of who we are away or pretend it isn’t there?
Those shadows tint my daydreams. They temper my eagerness for new chapters with a drop of fear that those chapters may not necessarily be idyllic. We know that bad things happen. But I also know how much fun we have together, even in intensive care units. I delight in getting you to laugh, playing together with our children, cooking and eating and lounging and spooning together, and sharing what God is doing in our lives.
While I hope that our future includes touring exotic places, I am just as eager to roll up my sleeves and get dirty with you by my side, helping the needy and desperate. I see us visiting hospital rooms, homes, and offices to pray, listen, and weep with those who weep. I’d sell everything and go anywhere with you. Surely our experiences in the dark valleys and fighting to keep our marriage intact can help others. To together play a small part in God’s work restoring, building, and healing what is broken is the best kind of fantasy I can imagine.
I love you.
Have you written to your spouse lately? If you post it online, feel free to share the link in the comments. Or join us next week. We’re writing on the prompt “nightly rituals.”