To my best friend on our 47th anniversary
Today is our 47th wedding anniversary. We’re in countdown territory. My 75th birthday is in December. My slightly older best friend and wife (same person) has already celebrated hers. Next March 8th is our 50th cohabiversary--the day we first started living together. And two years after that is our 50th wedding anniversary.
We’ve been through some good times and some tough times, and I’m happy to report that right now the times are the best. After 47 years we both report loving each other the more than ever. I’m proud of that, because it didn’t just happen. We worked at it. We've earned our success as a couple.
We share our most important values, but we are very different types people and both strong willed. So we had conflicts and upsets and arguments. Some pretty bad ("maybe we should just split" bad). But we worked our way through every one of them and this life is our reward.
A few years ago we went to a Fourth of July celebration in a small town near where we live. One of the speakers acknowledged people in the community who had “completed their lives” during the year. I liked that turn of phrase. So much nicer than “he passed” or “she died” or “they left us” or … (And cue my adaptation of the Monty Python dead parrot sketch: 'E's passed on! This person is no more! She has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! She's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! She’s pushing up the daisies! Her metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! She's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PERSON!!)
So the two of us are now completing our lives together, and there’s no one I’d rather complete my life with than the person I love most in this world, this person who I admire, this person who is my best friend.
Like all Old Married Couples, we have a bunch of routines that we do. (She wouldn’t see it quite that way, because unlike me she’s not a person who thinks of herself as a performer.) One routine starts with her saying: “I can’t imagine anyone better for me than you.” My line--slightly modified for this retelling--- is “Don’t brag about your lack of imagination. I can easily imagine someone better. It’s you, but with a better imagination. And with a better sense of humor. You’d think this was funny instead of rolling your eyes like you're doing.”
Because I have such a good imagination I can imagine someone better, but I believe it’s vanishingly unlikely that I could find such a person, even if I spent a lot of time looking--which--why would I ever do that? What we have, besides love, is deep friendship. I trust her as completely as it’s possible for me to trust another person. Not absolutely, of course. In theory there’s a certain amount of Baskin-Robbins ice cream that would turn her. But it would be a lot of ice cream. Probably too much for anyone to offer. So I imagine that I’m safe. Good imagination.
She's a bit less trusting of me, and probably with good reason. I'm a much less reliable person than she is. I'm working on it. I'm better than I was. And I hope that some day I'll grow up to be a real boy.
In the meantime, we have a good life together.
I’ve got a lot that I’m grateful for and she’s at the top of the list. Along with good health, great kids by biology and kids by marriage, grandkids, and friends. And consciousness.
Thank you, Past Me, for Bobbi, for consciousness, and for all the rest.