Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Our Golden Anniversary

I started writing this last August, close to our anniversary. Lately, I’ve felt the need to add to and complete it.

No, we haven’t been married fifty years.

When our kids were little, we told them it was their golden birthday when they were three on the third, five on the fifth, twelve on the twelfth and so-on. On the 27th of August, in a couple of weeks, Murray and I will be married twenty-seven years.

If we make it to fifty, that might be our “Can you believe we lived this long?” anniversary.

We only knew each other five or six months when we got married. We were engaged less than two weeks.

Our first year of marriage was quite a tumble as we finally got to know each other.

But we were happy. We had plans—school, careers, children. I knew we would be different from most couples. I knew even after we’d been married for a while, even after we had kids, we would hold on to our romance.



Life became complicated. We grew busy. We certainly didn’t always agree on how to handle the kids. The world slapped us in the face with some pretty hefty problems.

We were Christians. We did not believe in divorce. We would stick it out, but we were not the sweethearts we’d been in our early years.

For our 25th wedding anniversary, we planned to take a trip to Nashville. That would be fun.

Two months before our anniversary, I suffered a brain injury and spent six weeks in the hospital. Our lives were turned upside down.

My memory of those first six weeks is sketchy, but I remember thinking how wonderful Murray was being to me.

Every morning he came to the hospital to spend the day with me. He didn’t go home until I fell asleep. A neighbor asked him if the people in the hospital didn’t get tired of him coming there all the time. Murray said, “I don’t care.”

“We have abandoned her into the hands of our sweet Lord Jesus,” Murray told our family and friends during the first couple days, when they didn’t know how it would go with me. When they knew I would live, but not what my recovery would look like, Murray was sure we would manage it, as a family. He told a member of the hospital staff, “When I said ‘I do,’ this is one of the things I said I'd do.”

We praise God for how well I have recovered. I have not retained many of the terrible effects which a great number of people with brain injuries do.

Certainly, I do still have a number of results from the injury. I am no longer able to work outside the home. My balance is not predictable. I have lost a significant amount of hearing. I have memory problems, and the strangest words come out of my mouth sometimes. Yet we are thankful. We know it could have been so much worse.

God has brought many good things from this tragedy. One of the most beautiful is the change in our marriage.

I want to cry when I remember how I treated Murray before the accident. He would call me at work, and as soon as I heard his voice, I was terse. I had things to do. I didn’t have time to talk. Now, when he calls me at home, I “usually” remember to smile, and let him know how happy I am to hear from him.

Before the accident, I found so many reasons to criticize him. I can’t claim I’m anywhere close to perfect, but I work hard at biting my tongue. I used to spend so much of our time being irritable, not being loving. Now I work to remember to smile, to hug him, to hold his hand, to say “I love you.” Most of the time, it’s not that hard of a job.

Murray tells me, “You are the wife I am happy to have.” He takes my hand and tells me, “I want you to know, nothing’s changed.” He holds me in his arms and says, “Oh yes, this is the good stuff.”

No, we’re not perfect. We still fight sometimes, and we still say things we’re sorry for. But as our twenty-seventh anniversary draws near, we know our marriage is a gift of gold.

James 1: 16-17: Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

A few months after our golden anniversary, when I hadn’t worked on this story for quite a while, I was going through a terrible time of moodiness. I self-diagnosed my problem as coming from menopause. I cried and got upset so easily, about things that happened in the past and present.

I got into a huge fight with Murray—I cried and screamed and couldn’t stop—over something we could have handled with a decent discussion at my more reasonable moments. After that day, I went through days of being furious with Murray, about so many things, about just about anything, about nothing.

One night after I’d gone off at Murray about something, I was in our room crying and praying for God to forgive me and help me. A couple of minutes later, God answered my prayer.

Murray knocked on the door and told me a friend had called and wanted me to call her back. He could tell I was crying and asked if he could help me. I didn’t answer, so, courageously, he came in.

I said to him, “I’m so mad at you, and I don’t want to be, and I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

He held me, and tried to say it was all his fault, but I kept crying and going on about how bad I felt about everything and how I’d diagnosed it as being from menopause.

I told him that I remembered something that happened right after we got married. We were driving and fighting, and he’d pulled the car off the road and stopped. He put his arms around me and said, “I’m so mad at you right now, and I love you so much.” I told him that’s how I felt right now.

When I’d calmed down some, I said it was a good thing that God had brought that memory to me, about the fight so long ago, because that was a statement we could use on each other for the rest of our lives: “I’m so mad at you right now, and I love you so much.”

Several more months have passed now, and I am struggling through days. Not usually screaming and crying, but unsure of what I should do with myself, and having a hard time making myself get out of bed and do simple daily tasks. I’m sure this will pass, but I don’t know when or how.

Murray keeps hugging me, and holding my hand, and saying, “I’m so in love with you. I want to cry, I love you so much.”

God has given me a treasure so much stronger than gold.

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