We are fighting over socks. His socks. He has a knack for leaving them in the most bizarre places. The bathroom cupboards. The kitchen counter. This time they were behind the TV. Now they are balled in my hands, and I am muttering something about not being his slave. How can socks make their way behind the TV of all places?
Dave, my husband, is silent for a moment, and then he begins to smile a large sheepish grin. A consummate football fan, Dave shrugs and says, "The Vikings lost." I don’t laugh. "Why are you so mad? Is there something else going on?" he asks.
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It seems there is always something else going on.
Dave and I grew accustomed to tragedy early in our relationship. One month before he proposed, I found out that my brother-in-law molested one of my family members. This revelation tore my family apart. I spent the last semester of my senior year in college in therapy, trying to plan a wedding, write a thesis and come to terms with the tragedy that was destroying the people I loved the most. Through it all Dave was there, listening and holding me while I cried. He never tried to give me advice or judge my sudden and furious bouts of anger and frustration. Once I asked him if he was sure he wanted to marry me?
"All of this drama in my family isn’t going away," I said. "When we marry it will be your drama too. 50/50. Is this what you want?"
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"If you want to wait to get married, I will wait. But I want to marry you; crazy family and all," he said.
A year later, my father-in-law, Gary, told us he had cancer. It was advanced. He didn’t have long to live. Dave and I worked our schedules so we could visit his family every weekend. Dave and his brothers fished with Gary until he could no longer walk down to the dock. I wanted to come, but held my distance, trying to respect their time together. While chemo shrank the man who had run marathons and his own business, Dave sat with him, watching the Vikings, talking only about sports. Their voices were low and normal, even as Gary winced in pain. I sat in the kitchen and read, trying to understand how they were able to be calm—trying not to scream and throw my fists into the wall.