I rarely write about marriage, or us as a couple. It happens maybe once every couple of years, when the urge bubbles up and I can’t contain myself. I write to and about our son often. Corwin is 4 years old and won’t remember most of these things yet, so I feel this urgent need to put it down on paper. In case I won’t be around to tell him myself when he’s older, in case my memory fails me.
Jeff and I have been together for 18 years now, longer than half my entire existence. We’ve been married for 10. Nobody in the world knows me better. I almost never feel like I have to say it out loud or write it down, because he knows. But sometimes, like today, I do.
I think it’s our last Sydney trip that has me thinking of this. It was eight days and the longest we’ve been away from our son since he was born. I struggled with that, being away for so long, but it was much needed time together as husband and wife. Well-meaning people have told me that perhaps I love our son too much, that I will have a rough time when he’s older and builds a life of his own. They’re right, and I knew this from the second I held him in my arms, but I know no other way.
Early last year, Jeff got into a vehicular accident. He was in terrible pain and could barely breathe, much less speak, when he called me. And for that half hour on the way to the emergency room in the back of a cab with very little information, it occurred to me that I could possibly lose him. I wanted to keep my wits about me until I saw him for myself, but I was a wreck at the thought, and had to fight this overwhelming, visceral need to cry, gutturally, from the depths of my soul. And I realize I am violently not interested in a life without him.
His internal organs took a beating and he had a collapsed lung, so he couldn’t breathe or move properly for some time, but thankfully, he was intact and in one piece. He recovered after a couple of weeks, but it shook me, the idea of possibly losing him just like that, and completely out of the blue.
Life is much too short to be spent guarding one’s heart, trying to love no more than an acceptable amount. Love fiercely, with every fiber of your being. Things will change as they’re oft to do. I can only relish every bit of joy I have now. I know that when the time comes when our son goes off to find his own way, it will be bittersweet and I will feel it immensely, but I will be thankful to have known this much love in my lifetime and proud to have done right by him, and I will be okay.
Because when everything and everyone else is gone, love, I have you and me. I have us to curl back into. You are tied to so much of who I am and all the stories I hold inside me. There’s a little tree in Hyde Park that’s ours now, and a spot on Manly Beach where the shadows of pine trees fall on autumn afternoons. There is a quiet little road in Taipei, a tiny ramen shop in Kyoto, a suburban neighbourhood in Tokyo with the two groceries where nobody understands us, and a rooftop in the middle of Kowloon, among others, that are ours in a way nobody else will know, not even our son. My life and the world as I know it are primarily made up of stitched-together memories of you.
It’s not perfect, but we never liked perfect. We embrace the wild mess and the dirt and the earth of things, the flaws and the cracks and hitches. After all this time, I am still here with you. And somehow, you’re still here with me.
I’m 34 now, and you’re 37. A few strands of your hair are turning silver, and I count them with a fondness that takes me over. For all this history with the boy who read me poetry, and all the things we have yet to do. You are here, and I am growing old with you.