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I’m one who needs to use life’s bumps and bruises to push me from one point to the other–a method that has improved my lifestyle since childhood. However, there are terrible, sometimes severe, consequences to my method. At times, I’m too hard on myself, and I’m just as hard on others, leaving little room for humanity to disrupt my meticulously well-planned life. It’s the only way I know to live. My husband, on the other hand, sees and lives his life differently. He’s a sort of “good ole city boy” from southern Texas and he is entirely comfortable standing on a street corner striking up a conversation with a stranger.
This same man saw me one day many years ago as a student in a high school classroom. He was smitten (not my words, his), yet he wasn’t comfortable asking me out on a date. As a matter of fact, he was downright nervous. At first it was hard for me to imagine this 220-pound, six-foot tall, handsome, popular linebacker to be a shy, frightened young man lost for words when approaching someone like me. I saw myself as an uppity senior housed in a toothpick frame weighing ninety-nine pounds soaking wet. I didn’t understand his interest in me. Today, I can see this kind, soft, genteel, shy side of him that was lost for words many years ago. Our opposites were attracted to one another: me, Miss Articulate; him, Mr. Tongue-Tied; me, Miss Serious; him, Mr. Comedian. Our high school later named us “The Cutest Couple.”
Though it was hard for Glenn to approach me, he did, and two-and-a-half years later, we were married. Later, he told me, “You complete me.” He has reluctantly admitted a time or two that without me, he would be lost. From day one he said he wanted to “put my name in lights” and give me the world. Each time he revisits those romantic moments, I see its meaning swell up in his eyes.
I can’t remember a day when this man didn’t love me. Not one. The kind of love Glenn has for me is unimaginable. It’s a fairytale, a big-screen chick-flick, a romance novel woven into my everyday life. To us it’s real, and I constantly fight the urge to rush out and buy him roses and an expensive gift, cook his favorite meal, or try to invent some way to roll myself into a sweet, mouthwatering piece of chocolate that satisfies not only his sweet tooth, but his life.
While sharing my thanksgiving with my long-time friend, she enlightened me. “Love is a gift,” she spoke softly. Those words hung in the air as she tried to explain any attempts to pay my husband back would be akin to returning a rare and precious diamond to the mines. You might as well say, “No, thank you” to someone who is trying to shield you from a downpour. My friend’s words didn’t soak in. My psyche couldn’t handle such wisdom. I found myself caught up with the idea to do something for Glenn.
I ended up doing things out of the ordinary. On more than one occasion, I prepared his favorite meal. With everything in me, I warded off the temptation to create a ‘honey-do’ list and decided to let him nap as long as he wanted on the weekends. I kept the car filled with gas. I took out the trash. I shocked him by allowing him to have complete access to the television remote so he could watch those ridiculous programs he enjoys. At first he smiled at me and thought I wanted something. He patiently waited for me to creep next to him, as I sometimes do, and bat my eyes and pout like a two-year old. But when I never came to him with my large brown eyes begging for something else I really didn’t need, he began to look at me suspiciously and questioned my behavior.
I tried to explain it was my way of letting him know I appreciated his love and I wanted to pay him back for all he had done for me. I continued my ramblings, trying to get him to see how I understood the sacrifices he had made in order to take good care of me and give me a fine life. To my surprise, disappointment filled Glenn’s eyes and sagged heavily in his face. I didn’t understand his reaction. This misunderstanding transformed to anger and we fought.
It must have taken a hundred fights before we could get to the bottom of it all. Unfortunately, it took me even longer to realize what I had done. My altruistic attempts were like that of a dog chasing his tail. I was chasing my own ideas of what a ‘thank you’ should look and feel like. I can’t count how many nights I stayed awake tossing and turning, trying to scheme my next outpour of thank you’s. It wasn’t long before I became a grouch because of my sleepless nights of planning. Soon, his favorite meals burned. Candles became scented au jus on days he’d come home unexpectedly late. Instead of creating a loving, romantic atmosphere, our home was tense, strained. My good intentions turned sour, filled with frustration, sometimes leaving me bitter and angry. Payback proved to be a lot harder than I anticipated. I sulked, until one day my friend’s words spoke back to me: “Love is a gift.”
Sometimes the intangible and unadulterated things in life can be the most difficult to accept. In my case, all I had to do was sit back, relax, and enjoy Glenn’s love. His love is unconditional. It is manifested in overtime pay for something I don’t need. It’s a slave to my desires and whimsical ideas. It makes me weak and senseless, leaves me smiling until my jaws are pained and tight. It’s a deposit that requires no return.
It has taken me years to accept such a gift without feeling a need to counteract it. When my struggles to accept Glenn’s precious gift becomes harder than it should be, I think of myself as his gift. I’m packaged in pretty, silky-smooth chocolate skin with powder-blue ribbons and bows tied at my wrists, neck, waist, and ankles. With a big smile on my face, I glide into his arms. Secretly I declare that I’m done with payback—guilt free. When the moment is right, I whisper in his ear, “Thank you honey.” I’ve learned that’s enough. It’s all that was ever needed.
Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Author, Poet
“’Thank you’ is a heartfelt, compassionate gratitude for something I don’t deserve. An attempt to make it into anything else destroys the initial love that afforded the ‘Thank you’ in the first place.” by Donna B. Comeaux
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