An Open Letter to Rick James (my husband, not the other one)

             Rick, as you know I’m not great with social media so I don’t tend to announce stuff, and I know you would never want a big extravagant surprise or anything like that, which has always worked out well for us. Given the choice, we both shrug off ceremony and I love that about you. Yesterday, however, as you were cleaning up after dinner (Thanks!), you said, “so tomorrow’s our day, Kate…”

             I’m not sure how long it took for it to dawn on me that it was our anniversary, but if there was a pause, you were nice about it and said nothing. Me being the female and all of that, I sometimes feel responsible to care about these sorts of things. I mean, I do care, I really do—but at the risk of sounding kitsch every day is like our anniversary to me. And yes, that definitely sounds scatty, but you know what I mean.

            I’ve been trying to think of how to communicate in some small way the largeness of you in my life.

            In A Severe Mercy (I know you haven’t read it) Sheldon Vanauken tells the moving story of his marriage to Davy and her subsequent illness and death. I remember this one passage where he describes how he and Davy, at times, almost telecommunicated; where if they had people over for dinner, without saying anything, Davy would think to herself ‘the candles need to be lit,’ and Vanauken, as though reading her mind, would go light the candles on the table.

            That’s not us. Sometimes when I say out loud, even a couple times with what I think is a pretty urgent voice “the garbage needs to be taken out,” your mind is nowhere near my thoughts, telepathically or otherwise. You are most likely thinking about something of great philosophical or theological import, or praying, and rather than interrupt you I just go ahead and take the trash out myself, it’s good exercise anyway and I don’t mind it, I kind of like taking it out, so changing up the roles is fine with me. Of course it’s possible when this happens you’re only thinking about whether there’s anything for dessert. If this is true you don’t have to tell me. I’ll just assume you’re praying and we can leave it at that.

            But back to the largeness of you in my life. What I mean by this is that God has primarily used you to guide me closer to him. I know that somehow, some way, God would have made sure that I grew close to him regardless of whether we ever met. But still, we did meet, and get in that snowball fight (remember? In Syracuse?), and go to that art show, and get pizza together, and then become official, and live apart that summer I went to Nigeria, when I came back and broke up with you (sorry again!). But then we got back together, and you visited me in Chicago and we climbed up to the top of the dunes together and you did flips in the ocean; all completely full turns in the air—you could do that because you were a gymnast back then. I thought that was crazy. And then you moved to New York City and worked on Madison Avenue like you were some Don Draper guy even though you don’t look like him and are on the short side, actually, and on the weekends you would drive up to visit me, still in school, and then that one weekend we decided to just go ahead and get married, what the hell, why not? Remember the Wurlitzer organ and the justice of the peace and his sweet little wife? They really wanted us to be happy, to have a happy marriage, remember that? They stood at the door and waved goodbye as we left. It was cold that weekend, and I wore my only pants that weren’t jeans. They were plaid and pretty damn ugly now that I think of it.

            I could write endlessly about the ways you have blessed me, and blessed our children. And other people too. I love that you love God. When we were dating we thought we knew everything and had all the answers and loved God more than anybody else did. None of that turned out to be true, but still, God has been gracious, no? Could you ever have imagined the riches he’s given us? How true it’s all turned out to be? 

Even as I’m writing this, you’re in our bedroom opening up the little hatch in the ceiling to stick mousetraps up there. So you’ve been hearing them too I guess, the little pitter patter of their feet when the lights go out—mice being nocturnal. Sometimes I think about how life here can feel like a nocturnal one—day won’t dawn completely until Heaven and we still have so much to do here, scurrying around trying to get as much done as possible. The Bible says there’s no marriage in Heaven and I’m cool with that; I figure we’ll know each other even better then, and there won’t be the same need. Life here is so very hard.  

I hear you downstairs now, in the kitchen talking to Will, our son. You’re telling him that it’s our anniversary tomorrow, you’re telling him how crazy you were about me when we met, which I know means you’re crazy about me now too, so thank you. Right back at ya.