The Things She Carried

In the wake of any relationship’s conclusion,  via break-up or death, we carry pieces of the person with us long after their face fades from sight. Musical triggers constantly invite me to revisit my first date or my Grandmother’s funeral. For others, a scent, place, or even color can transport them back in time. It’s in those snippets that we are free to relive certain moments of our lives that we have cherished.

Recently, I’ve begun subconsciously noting things that I expect I will remember long after the moments have passed, and I have yet to decide if I’m being morbid or sentimental. For instance, my husband has developed a small obsession with trees. And by small, I mean he would quit his day job and become an arborist in .4 seconds. We’ll be driving along and he’ll totally forget he’s in charge of the steering wheel to point out a “stately oak” or a “beautiful red maple” to the kids. Brady normally indulges him with a “I see it! Dat’s big!” while Ella and I silently dream of Cheerios and shoes, respectively. However, when he’s not with us (like, when he’s at work), I find myself yelling out tree names with such enthusiasm that I often wonder if someone has spiked my green tea.


If it’s just me and the kids, I’ve been doing the things Zach does: turning up the radio to a Rolling Stones song, counting the American flags we pass during our walks, memorizing names of golfers to recite to Brady. While part of me thinks I am legally bound to do these things (I’m pretty sure that’s what I agreed to do when I signed our marriage license), another part of me thinks it’s my way of keeping a piece of Zach with us even when he’s not physically present. (Morbid? Sentimental?)

When I first realized that I was doing this, I couldn’t understand why. It kinda freaked me out. Why did I feel so compelled to recreate such seemingly insignificant Slivers o’ Zach in his absence? It’s not like he’s gone on business or deployed for months at a time. We eat dinner together as a family every night! So I thought (and secretly feared) that I must have morphed into one of those women who completely swoons (P.S. What a stupid word: swoon) over everything her fellow does. But that ain’t it: we’ve been together for years, and I fully intend to continue rolling my eyes at his ridiculous fashion sense; I have zero desire to adopt his love for mulch. In fact, he annoys me just as much as he always has (because that’s what he agreed to do when he signed our marriage license). But I can’t ignore the tap-on-the-shoulder reminders of the things that connect us even when we’re apart.

I distinctly remember the Jerry Maguire line that every girl wanted to hear from her man, “you complete me,” making me want to vomit. No incomplete dudes for me, thank you kindly. I used to think that someone believing another someone would make him/her WHOLE was, in a word, pathetic. For me to be that dependent upon someone was going against everything our female ancestors fought for. Sorry, Women’s Suffrage means something to me.

But I think I get it now.

Zach and I aren’t at the beginning stages of our relationship where every encounter begets butterflies, but where we are may be even better. Like any team that has played together for a few seasons, weathering the losses and triumphing in the wins as a cohesive unit, the hubby and I have found our niche. He’s become a part of me, high white socks in sandals and all. Even though I would still like to rewrite the Jerry Maguire line to read something like, “You complement me nicely,” I can appreciate the sentiment.

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