I remember when Bubba graduated college a year before me and moved to another state to work. I had one year of undergraduate studies left and then I was off to medical school. One morning, as I drove east toward my job and watched the sun rise over the wheat fields, turning the sky into sedimentary layers of pink and orange and yellow I missed him so much that I began to sob. Thankfully, at this time of the morning, I was the only one on the road, although the fields were beginning to show signs of life with combines and win-rowers making their way through the crops. I drove slowly as my tears obscured the view and made the colors run together in my windshield. I wanted to lean over and interrupt his chatter in the passenger seat with a poke to the shoulder. I wanted him to see this beautiful day beginning with me and share my wonder. The sunrise suddenly didn't mean as much without someone to watch it with. I was in love.
Today, we have lived together for nearly 15 years, minus the nine-month separation after he graduated before me. We have been married for twelve and a half years and are raising two amazing daughters together. We had been married for six years prior to having our first child and I was certain I knew all there was to know about him. I was so wrong! I never knew he was so artistic until I watched him draw crazy characters with her. I had no clue how talented he was at defusing temper tantrums or creating silly games. I didn't expect him to be such a wonderful father and still maintain his status as a manly man who grew up on a cattle ranch in redneck country.
He is the breadwinner, the rock upon which all of us dramatic females crawl for refuge, and the one we can turn to when we have run out of ideas. He is the guy with the ridiculously big ideas who looks to me to fill in the details and make our shared dreams reality. He is my best friend, my comic relief, and one of the few who "gets" me. We share a love of cooking, wine, close friends, and bawdy humor. He was shocked by my ability to swear a blue streak, intruiged by my tattoo and brave enough to bring me (a vegetarian who worked as a nurse in an abortion clinic) home to his Rush-Limbaugh-fan, cattle ranching parents with no apologies.
As I contemplate the possible outcomes of his upcoming surgery (something I know I should avoid entirely), I strike a concrete barrier at the thought of life without him.
We have outlasted two beloved cats, college finals, some very lean years, job changes, wedding planning, family deaths, deep-dark secrets, childbirth and home-buying, to name a few things. We have survived trips to the ER, a child's serious illness, and disparate beliefs. Together. I trust him implicitly to love our children as much as I do. He is my go-to-guy and I am his right-hand-woman. We have the ability to make each other laugh until we cry and we are not afraid to cry together. Losing him would be more than a simple subtraction of one. It would remove something vital from the equation. It will take years of complicated calculations to fully realize the implications of a loss like this. In this instance, adding one and one is not simply a matter of putting two like objects together. It is more akin to a recipe where the ingredients knead together and become something entirely different and more than their individual sums. For him to leave our lives would be more like removing a piece of pie, leaving the filling to bleed out onto the pie pan.