Love is strangely complicated and yet purely simple at the same time
Today nineteen years ago Michael and I said, “I do”. This morning when we lay in bed, reflecting on our journey, we marvelled at how far we have come. Love is strangely complicated and yet purely simple at the same time. We feel that we are in two places at the once; still newly weds and yet we know so much more than we knew about each other on our wedding day.
We recounted the valleys, and there were a few; and we talked about the mountains we are climbing, and we wondered about the ones we have yet to climb. We thought about the people who stayed with us, and those who we have lost.
I especially struggle with my anniversary because it was at our wedding that my parents’ marriage began to unravel; and what I remembered for a long time about the first year of my marriage was their divorce.
I don’t remember long lazy mornings lying in bed, or walks down sunset lit streets, or suppers that became breakfasts. Instead all those moments were consumed by the pain of watching my parents marriage dying while mine was being born. I felt guilty, frustrated and confused. I remember the agonizing pain that I could not escape from no matter how much I wanted to. Overnight from being in the bliss of marriage we were thrown into the role of elders; caring for everyone else but each other.
During this time I was still grappling to come to terms with Savannah’s diagnosis and the disintegration of my family. Michael was learning to be a father to Savannah, son-in-law and brother-in-law to a decaying family and a husband to me. Savannah started school at an early intervention center and not at the local pre-school as we hoped; and we began the emotional rollercoaster as parents to a child who was labelled “ineducable” and a “person with profound disabilities”.
It is amazing when I recount that time; because if we thought that was going to be our only challenge, we were wrong. We faced Savannah losing her ability to walk independently and Darren (my brother) becoming an amputee. Those two tragedies still bring us to tears. Then Michael was retrenched at one point leaving him without a job for one year. Savannah underwent over twenty procedures under anesthetic and anniversary celebrations and date nights were repeatedly put aside to pay medical bills. Between our three children, we have been with them in medical theatres about thirty some odd times in nineteen years.
We fought for services for Savannah, fought for our right to try different ways to help her live her best life, fought to be understood and accepted as her diagnosis and changing needs made us aliens in our families and faith communities. Amidst all the deep paths that we ventured, God blessed us with Talisa and Eli. The joys in parenting our three children became our lifeline and our lives.
We did not sit together much because one of us was outside at events with Savannah or with one of the other children when they were too little to sit still. Or either of us (mostly me because I was home with the children when they were little, and needed a break) attended events while the other parent stayed home because we were too exhausted when Savannah did not sleep for days or when we could not afford to buy new clothes for everyone in our family to attend an event.
We busied ourselves in church activities, awareness programmes for people with disabilities and tried to be available to anyone who needed help. We put our hands up to join committees or babysit for other couples. All of this was good and we made good friends, but all of this was not always necessary.
We are both opposites in many respects. Michael is an introvert where I am an extrovert. He is unyielding when he believes that he is right, and I of course am right! So that makes for interesting discussions. Just kidding. But we both have our own ideas and do not need to agree on everything.
He is not romantic while in my head plays a perpetual playlist of love songs. He is a meat eater while I am a pescatarian. He wants to watch Manchester United and I want to read Jane Austen or Karen Kingsbury or Marian Keyes. He does not dance, and I was born to dance. Oh, but he sings. He wakes up every morning humming a song.
When we look back at what unfathomable storms, we weathered with little to no support; we know that we are a witness to God’s divine hand over us. We hold each other with humility for the times we missed out on, when we did not show up in the ways we should have. We embrace with a deeper respect for the others’ strength of character. We come apart to each other; knowing that we are safe indeed.
I thank God for our different seasons. But mostly, I am thankful to God for holding us together through it all. I am thankful that in all my joy and all my pain; being Mrs. Pillay continues to take on a deeper and more precious meaning.
What we know to be true is that love is strangely complicated and yet purely simple at the same time. We are thankful for a love built on the one who first loved us, Jesus; and we are thankful to Him for giving us this secret for our marriage:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” – Galatians 5: 22 and 23
Happy 19th Wedding Anniversary to my endless love.
Now I am off to make our favourite meal, a Thai style stir fry (meat option and vegetarian option) which we will enjoy in the tranquility of our garden, listening to the soundtrack from our movie ‘Con Air’. That is our story for today: love during the time of lockdown (can’t help trying to play off the title of a favourite book of mine ‘Love during the time of Cholera’ – by Gabriel García Márquez. I highly recommend it.)