Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dark Beginning, Bright Future

By Lisabet Sarai

I fell in love with my husband while my mother was dying. That sounds heartless and morbid, doesn't it? But it wasn't like that at all.

We'd met six months before, at a conference. I lived in California; he was based in Massachusetts where I'd grown up. We'd corresponded and talked on the phone, but it didn't seem all that likely that our relationship had much future, given the geographic barriers.

When my mom's leukemia resurfaced after a year's remission, I took a leave of absence from my job so that I could be with her on the east coast. For nearly a month, I visited the hospital every day. Aside from her disease, she was incredibly healthy, and it took a painfully long time for her to die.

When I wasn't at her bedside, I spent the time with K. He somehow knew exactly how to deal with me. If I needed to talk out my fears and my sorrows, he'd let me. If he thought I needed distraction, he'd provide it. He drove me back and forth to the hospital. He took me out to dinner. He let me cry on his shoulder.

Away from my home, my work and my friends, I felt lost and depressed. I worried about my job – my first serious employment since leaving graduate school. I had nightmares about my mother. K handled it all. I was incredibly grateful for his support. I suppose at some level he had ulterior motives, but honestly, I don't know whether I would have made it through those dark days without him at my side.

When my mom finally let go and passed on, he helped my siblings and I make the arrangements, and accompanied me the funeral. Only later did I realize what that cost him. My mother had converted to Catholicism. For reasons buried in his own history, K. has an allergy to organized Christianity. Normally, he won't set foot in a church. However, he made an exception, so that he could be at my side, quietly offering me his love and his strength.

A day or two after the funeral, I returned to California. I was seriously concerned that I might be fired. But K. and I both knew that our relationship had changed. A month later I came east for the winter holidays and then he and I drove cross-country together, in the first of what would become many journeys. We count our time together from the day we left Massachusetts and headed west.

Good, decent men? I certainly found one, or rather, he found me. That was more than thirty years ago. He's proved himself again and again. Last Spring, when I had hip replacement surgery, the poor guy had to take on almost all the household responsibilities. He hardly complained.

I must have really good karma, to have hooked up with this amazing man. Other women apparently feel the same way I do about him – he's not particularly good looking but he never fails the charm members of the fairer sex. I almost feel embarrassed by my good fortune.

Maybe that's why I have some trouble writing male characters who are self-centered, lazy, manipulative or cruel. I've heard so many tales of woe from my girlfriends – but it's hard for me to identify.

My guy is solid gold.


  1. I've always said that I used up all my luck in life finding R. And I'm fine with that. More than fine. If I could chose one person to be marooned with on a desert isle, it would be him. When he walks into a room, it's as if everything gets brighter, better, and more fun. He's no kilt-wearing swordsman with a haunted past, but I can't remember the last time one of those types would have been a better companion.

  2. What a wonderful story. Many marriages fail upon that first hard trial that they reach.

    My wife and I went through ours a few years after we married, and it was touch and go for a time. It was after we came through it that we truly became close and knew we could get through anything together.

    Indeed we have come through a lot, and I'm so grateful that I have her.

    Great marriages are built on that sort of strength, and you two had that from the beginning.


  3. Lisabet
    in finding a great and stable love, you have one of the greatest gifts the world can offer. If i could wish for one thing, I would wish only for that. But also, to give you credit, you have the capacity for gratitude. Something, sadly, women too often lack.


  4. In a world where we so often see shallow, short relationships, it's always reassuring to read of those that last. There are good and decent men out there.

    I, too, am eternally grateful for whatever karma was responsible for leading me on the path that led to my husband almost 38 years ago. He is the epitome of unconditional love. We've shared so many good times and overcome many obstacles in that time.

    I don't have any trouble writing nefarious male characters, though, because I knew a few of those *before* I met my husband. LOL. I think that made me all the more cautious about who I would choose to spend my life with, and grateful for who I found to do so.

    And not too may women are lucky enough to have two good men in their lives. I'm twice lucky, because my other man is also a treasure and they like each other, which makes my life very rich indeed. Though many people don't understand or accept polyfidelity, two of the cornerstones of it are trust and unconditional love.

    I believe that if you can find even one treasure in your life, as you have, it is worth everything. He sounds like someone you deserve.



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