Stories like this…

Entering this second Kara-less year has brought less fear but more shock. The shock is not a numbing shock, but more of a head-snapping shock, a What happened? or Is this really my life? shock.

Days, weeks, and months passed at an unstoppable speed, and now a year. I am also shocked at the speed of life. One year has passed, almost 14 months. Year two of birthday celebrations is clicking by, and a second wedding anniversary without Kara was May 16th.  Would have been 18 years, but I am joy-filled to have had 16 with her.

One fun surprise has been finding numerous journals of Kara’s that were scattered around our house. Of all of her wonderful endearing qualities, organization was not one. Well, no….she was organized in her own way. Recently, as I was getting my income tax paperwork together, I realized some paperwork was missing and ended up having to contact people to get second copies; I’m sure Kara put them in a safe place that I can’t find. Then a few weeks ago, I removed the lid of a ceramic pot sitting on a shelf to discover that’s where Kara stored receipts!

I miss this. Stories like this are what make marriage an adventure. I faintly recall her talking to me from another room as I was talking with one of our kids, Jason, I’m putting all my tax receipts in this ceramic pot so we won’t lose them. I am sure I replied, Great idea! However, I quickly forgot; in reality, I probably didn’t listen well.

Variations of this conversation happened throughout our 16 years of marriage. At times this led to frustration and some sharp tones, but looking back,  it wasn’t worth the energy to conflict about it. Now I would love for Kara to lose all of my things. I believe laughter would be my response.

How suffering and loss changes us, how the intense moments of conflict lose their interest; loving seems like the best way now. I think back to the many times I chose to be angry at Kara and against her, instead of on her side and loving her for how unique she was. But in the moment, this is so hard. I miss even having this choice: do I start a fight about this or simply move toward her? Will I serve myself and argue, or do I serve her and our marriage? Do I choose my own unique ideas over hers? Do I teach her that valuable paperwork does not belong in a nondescript ceramic pot? Or do I choose to be for her? Do I enjoy the adventurous life of learning to love the uniqueness of the woman I am blessed with?

In 16 years we grew so much in the area of being on the same team. Believing the best in each other, of not assuming the worst. Paving this path was so helpful to us. But like most aspects of marriage and relationships it was work—self-forgetful, loving, gracious work.

And I miss this work…