Saturday, January 4, 2014
When love is more like onions
We stand outside the security checkpoint as long as they are in our sight and wave. Annecy's head of curly black hair bobbing in and out of view and Ivan's tear-streaked face breaking into smiles between soulful glances at Ricardo. My husband is quiet, watching his older sister and nephew disappear in the airport. His face doesn't betray much emotion, but I see it in his eyes, feel it in the way he leans against me.
He is sad.
His huge heart is spread between Mexico and Seattle, and while he says goodbye to one he turns to embrace the other.
We are family now.
Finally we move away, arms around each other, and he whispers, "Thank you. Thank you for loving my family, for making them feel welcome."
My eyes sting at the corners. "Of course," I say. Of course. "They are my family, too." I love them, even in my failures to love them as well as I want to, and I marvel at the grace of this reality. I squeeze my arm around his waist and kiss his stubbled cheek and we head home on the train.
At home, he opens a letter from Ivan and reads it aloud until his voice trails off, hoarse. He looks at me with eyes a pool of pink mist, buries his face for a moment in my shoulder. I smell the onion on his breath from our sandwiches and think how much I love this man. Just for who he is. How love kind of crept up on me throughout the year, surprising me with its depth in moments like these.
We have not come by marriage easy.
My memories flash, oh so briefly, to all the long nights. The fights, the tears, the aloneness. The eventual coming back together, talking, forgiving, letting go. To the depression, the heavy lack of hope, the raw sorrow, the anger, the buried longing, the struggle to trust. We have crossed many bridges together and we have fallen in the waters. But we have not drowned.
Ours has never been a morning-makeout-with-minty-fresh-breath kind of marriage. It's only been this, gradual drawing close to onion breath and holding each other's gaze. This refusal to let go, even as everything seems to repel us away. I do not love him for how he excites me, how he satisfies my passion. I love him for the depth in those twinkling eyes, right down to his soul.
I love him, because to love him is to love God, and somehow this steadies my weak heart.
How this Mexican boy and Seattle girl became family remains a mystery to me. But as this year stretches ahead, just four days old, I know one thing. I will love him even more by the end of it.