He is her rock, her security. He is the strong arms that held her while she cried when their son broke his legs skiing; the broad chest that cradled her closely dancing to their song at their daughter’s wedding just as they had 30 years before at their own. He was her strength and courage in all the things she doubted about herself, his voice whispered in her mind, “I believe in you.”
She was sensitive and some days just going out into the world was an assault on her heart. There were the times she was left out of something, forgotten by a friend, and there were times she was betrayed or shoved aside in favor of someone with more spunk and vibrancy. She was quiet and often felt forgotten. She felt weak that these grievances would unsettle her. She felt childish that someones words could still make her cry.
He would see the redness around her eyes and he would kiss her. “They don’t matter,” he said. “These are small things. I know you. They don’t. I believe in you. I see your strength.” Sometimes his words made her feel stronger and sometimes they cracked the thin shell to her feelings and she would burst into tears, burying her face in his wide chest. She was embarrassed. She wanted to be more than what she felt she was. She wanted to be more for him.
He was her courage. He chased away her fears and frustrations with his encouraging words. When he could he intercepted the struggles and worries that would befall their home. He worked hard to make sure she never worried about money. He disciplined the children with force so she could raise them with gentleness. He fixed the things. If needed he would fight off bad guys and criminals. If he could he would fight off storms and foul weather. His only goal was to go to the world to find something of value–clean it, polish it off so he could hand it to her and watch her smile.
He did what he could. He did what was necessary. He did more than that. He was that kind of man.
But all of that shifted suddenly and without grace. Like the quaking of the earth, their lives split wide open. It was an unforgiving crack that struck his heart. He crashed to the floor violently. A bone snapped, jaw and teeth broke apart against the tile. And then the biggest break, a soundless breach in his pride. She found him, soiled and startled, gasping for breath and life.
In the months after, when the pain blinded him and made him cry like a child, she was his strength. She held the world back so he could heal. She held the calls, she held meetings with the doctors, she held his spoon and she held his hand. She held back her tears. She leaned her small body into him like a quarterback with all her force as he growled in frustration trying to simply stand from his chair. She rescued him from rebellious buttons that tortured his fumbling fingers. She fought off his doubts at recovery, she fought his temptations to give up. She fought his foul moods and ill tempers and said to him, “I know you. I believe in you. You are stronger than this. This is a small thing. It doesn’t matter. Try again.” And so he recovered.
Now, they go for walks. He holds his cane and her hand. They walk slowly. They are passed in every direction by young men and women with perky bodies, quick glances, urgent lives. They rush past too quickly and he holds her hand tightly. When they reach the cafe, he holds the door, he holds her purse, he holds her coat, he holds her bags. He holds her heart in every gesture. And at night, when they lie down in bed, he pulls her close and holds her small body all night. She is his rock, his security, his beautiful bride. He will never let her go.
It’s a Kitten Holiday.