I am the wave, he is the mountain.
Last night I apologized to my husband for the genetically inferior lymphatic system I possess; also, for an apparent affinity for tumors.
“It sucks, getting this close to me. I feel like a liability.”
“It’s also so worth it, babe. I made that choice the first time I met you. Our life is Hard, but I rarely ask myself, what am I doing here?”
I was his first kiss. He was the first man I…made a calzone with? It didn’t taste great either—too much tomato paste.
August, 2008: After chemotherapy finished in California, Denver started tugging, and the University of Denver said yes, because who could say no to a nineteen-year-old who just beat cancer? Tiny heart magnets moved me through the dessert & toward the Rockies. Each odometer tick moved me away from the money and people in California and toward this massive hulk of rock pushing out of the soil—grounded and present. The waves served me well but this heart needed something more immutable.
Within a month of moving out here I had sniffed out a lonely (and racist) cop who needed someone wounded to come over after work and watch him drink whiskey. My hair was short and chemo-curly and I’m glad I don’t resemble that heartbroken mess anymore, because I never called him back—I still hate driving through Aurora.
“Do you want to come over and meet my parents?”
I listened to the voice mail on my way to the DU Homecoming parade, where my black Honda Element was to be featured as a float. Classmates sat on my open hatch tossing candy into the masses of people straddling the street, music blasted at a volume that forced me to drive with my shoulders up in an attempt to buffer some of the blaring.
Spencer, a tall, handsome guy in my Chinese class was one of the kids abusing people with the candy throwing, and Spence got thirsty.
I don’t really want to meet his parents. I don’t really enjoy whisky and Obama jokes, either.
I notice somebody weaving through the traffic behind me on an old black bike, that’s a funny lookin’ kid, I think to myself, I like his afro though. Frizzy brown curls bulge out and under his helmet. He hands Spencer, his roommate, a water bottle before riding up to my open window. The hunchback position must’ve tipped him off, also my bleeding eardrums.
“FADE IT TO THE BAAAACKK!”
“WHAT?!” I yelled back.
He fashions a hitchhiker’s thumb and pulses it over his shoulder.
“FADE THE MUSIC TO THE BACK OF THE CAR!”
“OOOOHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!” I flash a thumbs up and wipe the blood from the side of my face. “THANK YOU!”
He’s been solving my problems ever since.
The Love Story that followed had to pan out perfectly, God knew this, because what hid up ahead on our path Home should’ve destroyed us.
October 2008: “I just met the man I’m going to marry,” I informed my mom after our first time hanging out on Halloween. Weeks earlier I pledged that evening to the cop, but bigger things were calling me away from the scary, old story, and toward something more solid.
November 2008: “They think I might have cancer again, a spot lit up in my lung. I just finished treatment, I don’t know what I’ll do if it’s back.” So he cooked me steak and asparagus and potatoes au gratin and let me cry. Spencer was there, too. Probably drinking water.
“It was just an infection! There wasn’t any cancer!” I reported a week later.
“Awesome, will you be my girlfriend?” He asked while I watched crispy leaves tag each other in the campus parking lot.
This time, the ground wasn’t shaking. He is safe.
“I can’t kiss you yet.” I explained early on because my self-control liked to play tricks on me, and because I valued our Story. “I won’t be able to stop.”
“I love you, too,” he replied on December twelfth.
Waves, rumbling and rolling, kept me untethered; and shame whispered those shitty little lies, if you mess this up, he’ll leave. It’ll all vanish.
“Will you marry me?” He asked four months later in a hot tub in Breckenridge. His hair was so big, how could I say no? Spencer was there, too, in the water, with all our friends.
August 1, 2009: “I do!”
July 2010: “I’m pregnant,” I tell him after a road trip home from California on which I consumed three sausage McMuffins in one sitting, this is strange.
April 24, 2011: “It’s back.”
August 2011: “Will you pet my plumage?”
October 22, 2014: “I stole your Ambien, lots of times,” I confessed to him in rehab.
My waters raged, they moved so quickly through my veins and the life we were building. Zeal and zest and chaos seemed baked into my being, a hurricane of love and pain and passion. No wonder the sea feels so safe. If I keep rolling around, then I don’t have to feel for the sandy, solid ground underneath.
David—my Beloved—remained, just like the Rockies that towed me here. “Lord, I’d rather be a robot who get’s into heaven than a human who ends up in hell,” I prayed the week before we met. Do you ever wish you could power down your humanity and put on a tin suit? That maybe a lobotomy performed by heaven’s best surgical team would spare you all the heartache your chaos created?
Here’s what I think I know: Forget everything you think you know. Because I didn’t think I deserved the saint who still sleeps beside me—I believed I was destined for the cop. But that’s Grace, isn’t it. No matter how far we trudge into the murk, the second we become willing to search for a different story, the moment we remember we’re worth more than the mud, Love reaches out and sets us in front of a funny lookin’ kid who loves God with all his heart and happens to think you’re the shit.
He is right, our life is Hard. Whose isn’t?
Too many babies, and medical bills, and dog poops. We stick together because we have existed for too many days in a reality that blesses us with the gift of perspective: I might not live as long as the average wife. (Though I am guaranteed no more or less days than any of us.) David and I just exist in that Goodhardgood truth all the time. What a blessing to almost lose each other in the infancy of our love, a shitty-ass blessing.
I married a mountain. And though the past eight years have held some of the heaviest griefs, the man chooses to stay, because a mountain cannot be moved.
(Unless you pray with the faith of a mustard seed, so don’t go doing any of that.)