When I climb into bed at night, I giggle. I’ve been giggling as I nestle under the sheets and onto my pillows for the past six and a half years and all indications are, the giggle isn’t going away. Mike noticed it first. “Do you realize you giggle when you crawl into bed next to me?” “Hmm! I guess I do” I agreed.
The giggle is pure delight. Mike is “at last this is flesh of my flesh” to me. Mike is home and my safest place. Mike is my other half. Seeing Mike makes me grin and I can’t help it. Between us, there’s a magnetic field of some sort—drawing us toward each other. We “met” on Match.com. The first time we met for coffee was two months, a whole lot of e-mails and phone calls later. One of my first thoughts when I sat across from him made me blush, Becky! I said, in my head with the inflection my mother might have used when slightly incredulous and to set me straight, what are you thinking? I was thinking, I’d like to run my fingers through his hair right there at his temples.
His eyes are gentle and kind and…they twinkle and the hair at his temples is a gorgeous gray, highlighting his smiling eyes.
We both lived a long time before we found each other.
Mike was married before. His marriage lasted twenty-two years and produced three great kids. He and his ex-wife eventually had different priorities and they were divorced. The failure of his marriage was painful. Mike’s a family man. In fact, he moved out of the family home into an apartment just a block away so he could continue to be a very present father for the two of his children still at home. Sad, angry, lonely he built a new life for himself. When we met he’d been divorced for three years, his marriage had been over except on paper and in living arrangements for several more than that.
I was married before. I was married for nineteen years and our marriage produced three great kids. My ex-husband struggled with mental health issues. For many years he blamed his depression and struggles on external stresses, circumstances and people. Then, I started to get more of the blame. I was sad and lonely and one of my wisest, dearest friends guessed it. She asked “are you happy?” I told her “no, I’m just figuring it out one day at a time. This is the ‘for worse’ of the ‘for better for worse’ parts of the vows.” She said she couldn’t do it. She said she was crazy about her husband and he was crazy about her. I said “all marriages take work”. She said, “and some simply don’t work.” I told her mine was working just fine (even though it wasn’t).
A few months later a neighbor down the street sat me down to tell me she was concerned about my kids. “I don’t think you know what’s happening when you’re away at the church.” I didn’t know. She described a conversation she overheard putting away laundry in the hall while my son and her son and another neighbor boy were hanging out in her son’s room. The anger that had been turned on me was being turned on my children, too.
The divorce was pretty hellish. I don’t know many people who make it through divorce unscathed, we sure didn’t. So, when all the dust settled, and I eventually had full-custody of the kids, I moved home to Nebraska to be near my aging parents and one of my brothers. They helped me and the boys heal, and my brother and I helped our parents navigate some cruel blows from aging.
For eight years I said I was wearing a hat with three bills. Above one it said, “Mom” above another it said, “Daughter” and above the third it said, “Minister.” I just spun the hat around my head depending on the moment. Nowhere on the hat was there room for anything that said, simply, “Becky.”
A bit of Becky time eventually came. My elder two graduated from high school, my youngest was a high school junior, my mother “graduated” too. And that’s when Mike and I met.
I didn’t know what was missing in my life until I met Mike. I had no idea what marriage could really be even though I tried my darndest to make a good marriage the first go around. There are other stories to be told about divorcing and dealing with guilt and the fact that all of us “miss the mark” all of us fall short in different ways at different times in life. We can wrestle later with thoughts about divorce and sin and forgiveness and the Bible and making sense out of what ancient, yet still living documents teach us about God’s will.
But, I can say this for sure. Mike is a gift to me from God. Of that I have absolutely no doubt.
Mike and I are wholly married to each other in the holy way God imagined and dreamed for all God’s children. Genesis says God looked on God’s very good creation and realized something not yet perfected, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” said God. And God fashioned another human just perfect for the first. Flesh of each other’s flesh, bone of each other’s bone.
All of this story brings me closer to the point I want to make.
Mike and I have six young adult children. What I want desperately for each of them is that they find someone fashioned just right for them to journey with through life. I want each of them to dance with delight because they are so well loved and to find the embrace of one with whom they know they are “home.” One who, at last, is flesh of their flesh. I want them to shiver with the pleasures of intimacy and break into grins when their special other turns the corner. I want them to have that someone they trust and can count on when cancer strikes, when stress is high. I want them to giggle when they climb into bed next to each other even when they are growing old.
I want that for each of our six children and for you and for your children and our neighbors and for our neighbor’s children. And here’s the kicker–one of our kids is gay and that doesn’t change one bit my hopes and prayers and dreams–they are the same for all six of our kids. I want them to know, if they want to know, I want them to really know love. I want them not to have to live life alone. And not to have to pretend to be who they aren’t because there isn’t anything more lonely than that. I don’t care if the one my kid loves is he, she or they. I want them to find the one for whom they say, “at last.”
Once upon a time and even now, there are those so caught up in religious rules and regulations they would deny the holiness of the love Mike and I share because we were both married before. And right now, this very week when there’s so much hurt and so much heart ache and sorrow out there and each of us needs another to shore us up and help us find home, this very week there are religious zealots who have written a heinous and ugly declaration denying the holiness of love to those who are LGBTQ+.
To them I say, Stop it already! God’s love is bigger than your limited imaginations.
And to God I say, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for second chances. Thank you for the gift of my Mike. Thank you that as soon as I finish writing and click “publish” I will go upstairs and climb into bed and giggle as I nestle under the sheets and onto my pillows and next to my already sleeping sweet husband.
Thank you, God. Thank you. Thank you.