16,425 Days

Yesterday was a tough day.

Things did not go as we’d hope they would. There was a bit of mayhem, and a test that was failed by one point, and two high fevers, and a delusional rant from a 94-year-old parent, and a call for help from an extended family member. By the time Richard and I got into bed, we were exhausted.

In the warmth of the house, under the blankets, in the dark, we reached for each other’s hand and held on tight. That’s how we do it when the ride gets bumpy and that’s how we fell asleep.

A friend asked me once, “How do couples stay married sooooo long?” She was young and just starting out in life, we were middle-aged and in the throes of the daily chaos of parenting young teenage daughters. I replied “Oh my gosh, are you kidding? I could never do this thing alone. The path may not be clear, in fact we’re muddling along most of the time, but at least we have each other.”

We’ve been together a long time, my sweetheart and me and the path has never been clear. We are closing in on 45 years of loving one another and I have to say, it’s been a trip to travel the terrain of human experience only to land on Planet Elder-Hood and still be together. That’s almost 16,425 days of living with the same person, holding the same hand, putting my head on the same shoulder. Day and night, in and out, through mighty storms and calming seas we’ve held tight to the notion that when the north winds blow we will stand together, arms linked with a fierceness that only love can wrought.

Yeah, yesterday was a tough one and there will be plenty more before this lovely trip is over, but through the long hard times, and the good beautiful ones, we have more than 16,400 days behind us and that’s a whole lot of knowing, which makes the long marriages a kind of path toward wisdom. It’s not the only path, and it’s not for everyone, and for us, at least, well it’s never been a clear path, but as Joseph Campbell wrote, “If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s path.”  

That’s how we do it, we lean into the unknown together and keep walking down the path toward wisdom knowing that, at the very least, it’s our own.