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The Best Man

60 Weeks of Gratitude-Week 4

On this, the last day of the year, I want to talk about one of the biggest gratitudes of my life, my husband.

Back in 2003, I was thirty-three and was still licking the wounds from my tumultuous twenties. I was back at my parent’s house, again. My grandmother had died not long before, and the official excuse for me being back was to help my mother through the estate. The reality was that I was a ship without a rudder. I was a cyclone tearing through the world without reason. I could not figure out who I was or what I was supposed to be. I had no ambition for a career and had a poverty mindset. At that point, I was considering renting a small house, large enough to accommodate me and my anti-social dog, Oscar. I was working the night shift in a factory and happier, or at least less troubled than I had been in years. I was finished with men and relationships and was looking for a path of no resistance through my future.

This is not my antisocial Oscar. This was Ticket. But the girl in the picture, that was me during that era.
This is not my antisocial Oscar. This was Ticket. But the girl in the picture, that was me during that era.

On August 2nd, I had worked the night before, and on this Saturday morning, I don’t know now if I was getting up from my sleep or heading to it, but, I was interrupted by a knock on the door. I could see him, through the screen, unfamiliar, a solid figure with neatly trimmed dark hair. I didn’t know him until I came closer and could see his eyes.

When I was in the eighth grade, I thought Jeff was the cutest boy I had ever met. I’d had a crush on him for two years. We were friends, but it still took some courage to stop him on his way into town one day to ask him to my eighth-grade dance. We were on the railroad tracks, walking and talking when I sprung my request on him. I don’t remember the exact words he said when he turned me down. I remember his eyes though, they were dark blue, filled with gentleness, maybe sadness, maybe kindness as he explained that he couldn’t go to an eighth-grade dance. He was a sophomore, it wasn’t something he could do. He didn’t want to either, he didn’t say it, but he still saw me as a little kid. I could see it in his eyes.

Those werre the eyes that I found on the other side of my parent’s screen door that day. Kind, guarded, and maybe a little sad. He was in town visiting his family, and as he always did, he was stopping by the old friends to catch up. He and one of my brothers used to be friends, so he was coming to talk to my parents more than me, to hear about how they were, how all the kids were.

I have a before and an after in my life. Before that day, I’d spent my entire adult life in constant turmoil, rolling from one chaotic experience of my making to the next. After that day, I began to put away my chaos. I learned to accept the blame for the bad choices I made. I learned to accept responsibility. I remembered who I was before I went to California, where I blew my life to pieces and began to restitch my soul. Now, when I look back at my life, there are about ten years that don’t look anything like the rest. Those were the years before Jeff stepped onto my porch when I couldn’t find a way to fly right. He gave me boundaries that I couldn’t seem to rebuild. He gave me guardrails that helped me to stop functioning in chaos. Together, we learned and worked ourselves out of the poverty mindset.

Today is our anniversary. We have been married for eighteen years. It has passed by in the blink of an eye. It is a peaceful life, us together. We don’t have fights, and nobody ever throws anything, except for an occasional sarcastic remark. We are a team, raising a family, and beginning to contemplate our life after the kids are grown. It is the best version of life I have ever known.

I can’t imagine who I would have become if he hadn’t come onto my porch that day. I don’t want to imagine that woman, racing into old age with all the baggage of her youth still strapped across her shoulders. What a sad life I was headed toward.

What a fabulous life I have lived. Happy anniversary to the best man I have known.


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