I wasn’t there for your beginning, but you were there for ours. Mine and Jami’s that is. Even before I met you, I was told that you were “a package deal”. With the cute girl came a handsome hound. I’d never had a dog before and I was a little nervous, but we got along fine. You made it clear that Jami was Numero Uno, but I was an acceptable substitute in the walking and feeding, snuggling and treat giving departments. Jami was your person, and you, in turn, were her constant through all the change of her mid-20s to mid-30s. A pretty great package.
And so 8 years ago, my package deal moved across the country and into my, now our, studio apartment.
We bought a house because of you. Because you needed, deserved, a yard, an outdoor space that was yours. (It’s a nice house. So thanks for that).
I never thought I would be a dog person. But I became a Charlie person. Just like with a child, I felt responsible for you before I loved you. But love you, I did. First I loved your warm body at the foot of our bed (under the covers of course) keeping us warm on winter nights. Then I loved your head on my lap when we sat on the sofa. I loved going for long walks with you, before Frances was born. Remember those? Back with the cemetery allowed dog walking? So many long walks with you while talking on the phone.
That love only grew after Frances was born. Because she loved you so much it was infectious. She delighted in you. You were The Best. You got her appeal slowly – once she started eating and spilling solids she suddenly became much more interesting. But even when she wasn’t a free food source, when she was climbing on you, hugging and loving you a little bit aggressively, you were so very good with her.
Our house feels very empty without you.
Our beloved Walter went to kitty heaven a week ago today. He was 14 (we think) and had lived with Jami for 11 years, arriving unexpectedly and never leaving. He was the most loving cat I’ve ever met. He loved to be near you or on you. Within 5 minutes of meeting you, he would be on your lap, snuggling in. Everyone was his best friend. He loved open windows and would sit on the back of the couch, watching the world go by. He slept in my arms many nights, including the night before we had to put him to sleep – an absolutely heart-wrenching decision I have never had to make before. I am so grateful to his vet who was luckily working on a Saturday and who helped us understand what his kidney failure meant. He was the best cat, my own personal heater in winter, as energetic and happy-go-lucky as a kitten up to about a month before he died. It seems hard to believe that he’s gone.
Photo by Eva Russo.
Jami really wanted a boutonniere for the wedding. I called a florist near the Inn a few weeks before the wedding, but they said I didn’t need to order in advance. They were open on Saturdays and would be able to make up one boutonniere in just a few minutes. So after breakfast I decided to walk over the block and a half and get the boutonniere made up. My dad and uncle saw me leaving and asked if I wanted company. Sure, I said.
I was very worried leading up to our wedding that I would find the day stressful (and that the stress would lead to bickering.) While I have no doubt that stress and even bickering are normal things on a wedding day, I am happy to report that for all my worries, I found the day calm, even relaxing – starting with this fun little wander down the road with two of my favorite men and a whole city full of pink-clad breast cancer walkers. Thanks, Jami, for giving me an excuse to do just that.
I didn’t get a gratitude post up on Thanksgiving, but since I am feeling especially grateful today, this seemed like a good time to give thanks. I am grateful for:
Days off, and having a job that I both enjoy and that provides good benefits including leave.
My wife, for taking care of the pets this morning and letting me sleep in.
Our new basement, providing a nice place to do the ironing.
The pets, especially the hound for having a nice sleepy morning and not barking when I snuck downstairs to do the ironing.
Time to both be lazy (as I write this I am watching the Price is Right in my pajamas. I can’t remember the last time that happened!) and get things done. I have been feeling a little stressed about the holidays. Not the day itself, which I am happy to be spending with that great wife I mentioned before, but the fact that I have to mail all the presents this year. I am happy to have had a few minutes of quiet to figure out when everything has to get done by in order to get the presents there by Christmas.
Life is good.
I found out yesterday evening, on my walk home from metro, that one of our neighbors had died. Mr. Bill lived in one of the apartment buildings on Fort Totten Drive that we pass every day and most evenings I would see him hanging out on the sidewalk or sitting on the curb watching the world go by. He always said hello, and often had a remark or two to make, usually about the weather, sometimes about his life. He put his sister through secretarial school because “you have to have a trade”. He got in a fight with his father-in-law once, which ended with him being shot in the foot. He lied about who did it in the hospital because he didn’t want his father-in-law to get in trouble. He was a veteran. He loved Charlie. He turned 64 at the beginning of the month and he will be missed.
Photo by Eva Russo.
For my “something old” I wore this necklace of my mother’s. She had given it me over the Christmas holidays with the thought that maybe I would wear it at our wedding, which I was thrilled to do. It was an anniversary present from my dad to my mom. She couldn’t remember for which anniversary, she thought maybe 30th. My parents have been married for 43 (!) years, and to wear something that was a token of that relationship seemed like a little good luck for our wedding day. I’m looking forward to having spent that much of my life with Jami.
A month ago today, we got married. Married! (There we are above looking in amazement at Jami’s wedding band.)
It’s been a good (if somewhat expensive) month, and I hope it is just the start of many good months and years ahead. It’s pretty great being married. In a lot of ways, it’s no different than before – we wake up next to each other, same as before, eat dinner together every night, worry about our pets, plan our garden. In ways both practical and profound, a shift has definitely occurred however. How does marriage feel different? The best way I can describe it, as unromantic as it sounds, is that marriage feels solid. It feels like a foundation on which we can build. It feels like the start of something. Marriage so often seems to be seen (at least in movies) as the happy ending, but I think it’s really the beginning: the start of the rest of our lives and all the amazing things, both extraordinary and mundane, that we can accomplish together. Let the adventure begin.