I didn’t marry my best friend

 

The idea of marrying your best friend seems like a relatively new one. When I was growing up and even dating, that wasn’t a big thing. But in recent years, I heard about it more and more. It sounds like a nice concept. Unless you’re like me and you know that you didn’t marry your best friend. Then the idea made me uncomfortable. Did I marry the wrong person? Should I have waited for my best friend? Whoever that was?

I was in my mid-twenties and my husband was in his late twenties when we met. We had known each other for a few months casually before we started dating. Soon into dating, we started talking about marriage. We wondered how long we should wait to get engaged and we thought six months seemed reasonable. Andy proposed exactly six months later and we married a few months after that.

Did I love this man? Entirely. Was I committed? Absolutely. Was he my best friend? Um…. no. I had known him for barely over a year! I had shoes I’d known longer than him. Let alone my friends from childhood, high school, and college. I knew all their stories and they knew all of mine. These women were my collection of best friends. He was not my best friend– he was my husband. Even now I cringe while writing that because it seems socially unacceptable to admit, but it’s true.

Andy and I have had discussions about this over the years and he said I wasn’t his best friend either. He also came into our marriage with best friends from junior high, high school and college. Many of them stood with us on our wedding day to acknowledge the role and the history they held in our lives.

Two years into our marriage we started to make new couple friends and then we were a package deal, a two-for-one friend special. New friends would come into our lives to take the role of the best friend if even just for a season.

True confession- I actually hate the phrase ‘best friend’ and I’ve avoided naming anyone that my whole life. I always felt like it would leave someone out if I declared someone my best friend. So I’ve called my friends just, friends. Or, “friends we’re hanging out with a lot right now.”

Fast forward a dozen years and a road trip across the country later. Andy and I have built hundreds and hundreds of shared experiences into our relationship. With knowing each other for only a year when we got married, we simply didn’t have time and history on our side yet. But now we’ve gotten to know each other better than anyone else.

When something funny, good or bad happens, I want to tell Andy about it first. It wasn’t always this way. There were things I’d race to tell my friends or family. But that’s shifted over the years. It dawned on me recently that my husband is my best friend now. So I told him so over dinner one night. He smiled, considered it a moment, and said I’m his best friend too.

Imagine that.

Thirteen years after meeting him, I realize I did marry my best friend.

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A recent afternoon walk in the sunshine.

 

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Crying is good for you

I’ve had a lot of tears the past month, seemingly out of the blue.

I cry every time I watch the moms on The Voice. They’re either clutching their hands or someone else’s and you can just tell they’re holding their kid’s whole heart in theirs and wishing every good thing for them. And when they cry tears of proud joy when their kid gets a judge to turn around? Then I’m officially a goner. Oh, and Grey’s Anatomy- I’m a season behind, watching it on Netflix, but shaeeessh- can we just talk about Maggie’s mom? In short, I’ve probably cried a few times a week for the past 4 or 5 weeks. And that is frequent for me.

A co-worker who knows me well and saw me falling apart asked if it was the anniversary of my brother’s death. I said, nope, just a random day! But I was missing my brother. And it’s weird to me how some days I don’t even think of my brother, and some days I think about him all day long. I feel guilty when I realize it’s been a few days since I consciously thought of him. Especially when other people, decades further along in their grief say they think of their loved one (brother, spouse, etc.) every day.

I have to imagine if I had died and my brother had lived, he would have some days where he didn’t think of me and I would know that didn’t mean he loved me any less. Maybe he just was going forward in his life. I hope that’s what I’m doing.

I had two really big sobbing fits over missing my brother in the past month, no three. One was on my birthday when I realized he wasn’t there to give me a hard time for celebrating my birthday for too long. He called it Missika, an 8 day festival of lights. Another was just a day I was thinking about how much I was enjoying our niece Charlotte and how wonderful she is, and I was sad he wasn’t here for each minute. Then most recently I just missed him so I scrolled through his facebook and at first I was smiling and happy to see his face, watch his videos, and hear his voice. But by the time Andy found me I was a puddle of tears and I physically ached with how much I wished he was still here.

So I tell myself the same thing I tell my friends when they apologize for crying; tears are healing.

There are studies that found chemicals released in tears actually help humans heal. Our tears can reduce pain, lower stress, remove toxins from our body and help us to self-soothe faster than an anti-depressant. It’s actually pretty cool. Especially for someone who’s become a professional crier over the past 4 years. I like knowing there are benefits to feeling like you’re falling apart.

My mom says I never cried so easily until I came home from Kenya. Apparently, Africa broke my heart for the first time. But my brother’s death broke my heart wide open and left it raw and bleeding. It feels pretty stitched up these days. Just a leak every now and then.

This back and forth thing with grief is so unpredictable. I’m feeling mostly fine most of the time with plenty of joy, happiness and silliness sprinkled in like any other normal life. And then SURPRISE the rug is pulled out and I’m flat on my face weeping like the grief is fresh and new again.

Most grief moments still catch me totally off guard. And I still find myself grateful to have known Justin, to have loved him and to still be missing him so much, two years later. All the grief is worth it, for all the time I got to call him my brother.