He pulls up with the tractor, grins, and says, “Today is the day you learn how to drive this.”
“But I totally cannot learn to drive that.”
He smiles and pats the seat. And I know I’m going to learn to drive the tractor because he’s going to teach me. He will sit next to me and explain how to drive it as many times as it takes for me to get it. He will not yell. He will not tell me I’m stupid. He will not rush me. And he will not laugh…unless I do.
How can you be married to someone who works such strange hours?
Who has such an unreliable schedule?
Who works in that profession?
God. I could never do that.
I could never deal with that.
He teaches me how to shoot a handgun and how to use a chainsaw and how
to cut up a chicken and how to back a trailer and oh, God, the patience
that man has.
But doesn’t it worry you? I mean, his job?
Aren’t you kind of like a single parent, then?
Like…do you even sleep in the same bed?
God. That’s so weird.
I don’t even know how you stay married.
Rendering lard and smoking a turkey and snuggling on the couch.
Cutting wood and stacking wood. Bruises and smashed thumbs and sweating. Then
sitting in the living room together and not needing to fill the space with noise
because the quiet space isn’t uncomfortable.
Smirking as the kids run through, hell bent on bringing their oddly comfortable
chaos to our world. Seeing how much they look like him. And look like
me. And look like us.
“Can you come to couple’s game night with us?”
“It’s nearly impossible for us to commit to anything as a couple.”
“Okay, we will do it a different day. What are your husband’s days off…”
“It doesn’t really work that way.”
Packaging lard. Brining the bacon, one week left. Planning the garden. Ordering chicks. Fixing fence. Building the raised gardens. Moving hay bales. Watching his face light with an idea of how to do things better. Dad, I can’t figure it out, can you help me? Watching. Smiling. Loving.
Doing life. Doing life. Doing life.
“You know the divorce rate for law enforcement is like 70% or something like that?”
“Yeah. I know.”
How can I be married to someone with such a strange, unpredictable schedule? I can’t even comprehend the question. Because, life. This is the life we’ve built together. The hours matter and the minutes matter and the time matters and it’s all different than how life goes on Out There but it doesn’t matter because we aren’t out there. We’re right here.
No. He can’t always be here, but when he can, he’s here. We can’t always be together, but when we can be, we are together. We might be cutting through slabs of lard or splitting logs, but we’re together.
I think people have lost sight of what together means.
This is not a fairy tale. This is a love story. And I’ll choose it over a Disney storybook every single time.