By the time I was sixteen I knew I was a one man woman. I fell in love with the long-haired guitar playing hippie and remained madly so until I was half way through college. A serial monogamist, I love being coupled.
Being coupled means an ever present partner for the small joys that fill me up. Someone to make a spinach frittata for or to bring me a cup of coffee just the way I like it. A fellow traveler strolling from the arugula stand to the flower stall at the farmer’s market. The one who relaxes reading nearby as I carefully arrange the slices of radish to garnish our dinner plates. An enthusiastic extrovert, I am happy to have someone to come home to, and happy to have someone come home to me.
Being coupled means that my love language of touch can be spoken to me daily if I do so little as to reach my hand across the table, the sofa, or the bed. Connection can be counted on when I’m coupled.
My first big lesson that life doesn’t always turn out as planned arrived when my coupling with my first husband ended in divorce after 11 years. When my second husband, John, received a deadly diagnosis three years into our marriage, I really thought I had learned the lesson. When John lived for a decade beyond his prognosis, the lesson repeated itself and I was grateful for a plan other than the one we’d imagined.
After John’s death, I unconsciously assumed that my life plan would again include being coupled within a few years. I secretly thought that my succession of serious relationships would result in what I had in decades prior.
Did I say life doesn’t always go as planned?
Last weekend I unexpectedly found myself rearranging my bedroom furniture. I emptied drawers in the dresser that was once his and now mine, lining them with pretty paper. I sorted random earrings, searching for their partners. I flipped the mattress on the bed in which John and I had slept a thousand nights until the final one more than five years ago.
From time to time the muscles in the center of my chest tightened, evidence of the science of a broken heart—heartache. The power of the most tender heart is mighty. It can relentlessly cling to distant memories and thrust vast meanings onto tiny objects hidden in the backs and bottoms of drawers.
Spring is just a couple of weeks away. As I purged the sacred space of my once married life, I think it time to purge my thoughts that there is anything bad about life not turning out as planned. Because despite it all, as I look about my bedroom, to me it looks like my life—not as planned, not the same, but beautiful still.