I could hear him throwing up in the bathroom though I was at the end of the hallway, at least 30 feet from the disgusting retching sounds. Dave had food poisoning from a late night Denny’s run with some friends at a weekend retreat. We were there with his parents a few months before he proposed to me in 2001 so I could experience one of his family traditions. I stood with his mom in the musty church basement, a worried look crossing her face as she listed to her heaving son. Mom Fick, seeing my grossed out face which she must have interpreted as worry as well commented “Ohhhhh. David does everything loud. He always has.”
Yes. He always has. And always will. Dave left this past Saturday to help train students how to share their faith and work with his student leaders with InterVarsity to plan for the coming year. My parents were here visiting and celebrating my graduation from Wheaton Graduate school. Though Dave was gone there was plenty of raucous laughter with my kids as they played cars and legos and chase with the grandparents. And then Sunday arrived, my parents departed and I put the kids to bed. The house was quiet. There was no Dave stomping up the stairs, chuckling in the kitchen listening to a moth podcast, hammering on the pallet fence he’s been building in the backyard or asking me where the checkbook is though I’ve told him I’m taking a quiet hour to try and work on my book.
The house is quiet. And as I was running down to the basement to rummage through the dryer to try and find clean socks for the kids before taking them to school/day care I realized that it wasn’t just the external noise that was gone. It was the internal noise of navigating decisions every day on how to parent, conflicting schedules, worries about projects or kids on the playground that haven’t been nice to Reuben. Since I’m the only one getting the kids ready and putting them to bed for the next six days there is no asking things like “where did you put the keys? Did you pick up more milk like I asked? Can you help Ozzie get down from the counter he’s managed to get on?” It’s tiring. And it also reminds me that I’m not independent. And that’s hard. Marriage is too loud because it’s the negative thoughts towards my spouse rattling around in my brain that remind me how quickly I run out of love. When he’s not here there’s no one to blame but me if the trash isn’t taken out, Ozzy’s sticky hands aren’t wiped off after he’s eaten oatmeal with his fingers or I stay up too late reading. Yes, Dave stomping up the stairs is obnoxious especially when I’ve just put the kids to bed but it’s more obnoxious being reminded of my own inability to accept who he is, choose to love and confess to Jesus just how critical, judgmental and snarky I am everyday even if I don’t say 1/4 of the things I’m thinking aloud. Jesus may quietly whisper these things to me in moments of solitude with him but dang do they come through loud and clear.
Even while I was rueing how much I treasure my independence while I piled laundry onto the couch to fold while I watch Revenge later (yes, it’s my guilty pleasure. Actually I’m not guilty at all. I love that show.) I knew that by Wednesday I’d be missing Dave’s laughter, his snorty allergy sounds, and yes, even the way he interrupts me to share something funny with me because he loves to make me laugh. Marriage is difficult, not just because the people we live with are too loud, too quiet, to disengaged, to quizzical, too passive. It’s difficult because we realize how often we run short of love and our inability to conjure it ourselves.