January 12, 2015

Staying married for the full 8 seconds

Dad "bull-riding" at a rodeo in Texas last week. Pure awesomeness.
I have a special diet. This is tricky when we travel, especially to places where I won't be having my own kitchen. Right now we are at a guest house in Thailand, which has always felt like a second home to me. But on our first morning here, I got my heart broken by the management when they bawled me out for writing a "bloody rude" email about what I can and can not eat. I ended up running from the dining hall in tears.

After coming out to comfort me, Daniel went back to finish feeding the kids their breakfast, and so there I was, alone in our cabin, where I cried without consolation. I realized my heart was broken because I felt so completely unknown, so I decided I needed to call the two people in this world who know me the best.

My parents.

The Facetime call rang and rang, and for a moment I thought maybe they wouldn't or couldn't pick up. But then they did, and there they were, their smiling faces crammed together into the camera shot on Mom's iPhone. The backdrop behind them was the color of dust and filled with the sound of blaring country music.

"Hi Honey!" they hollered over the noise. "We're at a rodeo in Texas with Denny and Laura."

"Hi!" I said. I tried to smile but my swollen face and quivering lip betrayed me.

"Honey, are you okay?" They both leaned in closer to the camera, looks of concern on both of their brows.

"I'm okay," I said, and then the tears started to flow again, along with the whole story.

"I'd like to get my hands on them," Mom said lovingly when my story was through. Only moms can say stuff like that and sound loving.

"If they only knew your heart, Honey," Dad said, his voice deep and even. A constant.

We talked a little more and then I let them go, and Mom sent me the above pic a minute later to lift my spirits. It is a perfect picture of Dad because my parents, like most married people, had a rough go of it there for while. But Mom and Dad refused to give up on each other. They hung on, white knuckles and all, for the full 8 seconds, until the buzzer finally sounded this year and Dad retired! Now he has a wife who loves him and an RV that still runs, and six months of open road ahead of them to do whatever they please (like go to the rodeo with Denny and Laura). And here's the thing: when I needed them most, there they were, crammed together in the camera shot on Mom's iPhone. My parents, married. And all the world was right.

Everybody knows that kids never stop needing their parents, but maybe kids never stop needing their parents married. Maybe moms and dads considering divorce should look down the road at their daughter when she's 34, calling from across the world in tears to be utterly comforted by the fact that her parents are still together. A pastor was once asked by a couple in marriage counseling, "Are the kids reason enough to stay married?" To which the pastor responded by saying, "What better reason is there in all the world?"

So thanks, Mom and Dad, for hanging on for the full 8 seconds. Your love for each other, richer now than it ever was (in spite of, or because of, the tough times) is the best gift you have ever given me. I love you.