Have you ever looked through a rearview mirror and been surprised by what you see? You wonder how you didn’t notice a tree, a person, a plant, or a house as you passed it. Sometimes our focus is on other things and we miss stuff. You also see things you would have never witnessed if you had not looked back. I have seen some pretty amazing sunsets and also dark storms when I look back. The rearview mirror is similar to obtaining perspective. Time often gives us clarity on circumstances and life events we could not comprehend and understand in the midst of them. After time passes, sometimes, we are just as perplexed as the day it happened.
Today I celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary with my husband, Todd. We have navigated life together since my dad passed away in 1985. Todd was my friend for years, but something shifted after my dad died. I saw a different side of Todd. He was there to comfort me, remind me of the beauty in the world, and often just listen. Todd is a great listener. Although Todd was there for me, he was struggling with his own issues. We were two young adults treading water in a stormy sea, when one went under, the other was there to pull us up.
We have created a vault of incredible, wonderful memories. We have not traveled the globe or lived a life of extravagance, but our life is full of simple and joyful moments. Kissing for the first time at the Westin Bonaventure. We were at a Beatles convention. Awkward teens without a clue just how wild our ride would be. Driving my Mazda 323 up the coast of California to Washington with a boombox on the floor playing tunes from FM Radio. We still laugh at the fact that I could afford either air conditioning or radio in that car. I picked air conditioning. The birth of our children. Buying our “starter” home, which is the place we still call home 26 years later.
We have experienced more trials and tribulations than many couples, certainly ones that have stayed together through them. We have survived the loss of family, friends, and jobs. Our marriage has experienced mental and physical illnesses, trips to the hospital, and financial struggles to name a few. We have raised two children, one with developmental disabilities. (Most marriages do not survive when they either lose a child or have a child with a disability.) Emily is severely disabled and requires full care for all needs. This ups the ante on the divorce rate.
I remember reading an article a few years ago that discussed the correlation between families that camp together and closeness. The gist of the article was that families that encounter near-death experiences develop a strong bond. Bears invading the campsite, breaking into the car, or a flash flood warning where you are staying are bonding moments. Living to tell the tale and knowing you got through it together strengthens your bond. Our marriage is full of bonding moments.
Our relationship grew from friendship, hardships, and struggles. We leaned into one another through our struggles and love was the result. We grew to love one another. What keeps us together is knowing we are better as a unit than we are alone. We get further and faster. We have more resources. Our ability to overcome the obstacles that come our way is more bearable, manageable, and less fearful knowing we are in the trenches together. We are partners.