My husband got glasses this week. He’s always been proud of his 20/20 vision, gently teasing my rapidly deteriorating eyesight. He’s a builder and consequently has the occupational hazard of regular splinters in his hands. Over the past year, his arm got too short for him to focus on the tiny shards of timber, much to his disgust. His eyes were fine, his arms had shrunk.
So this week he got his first pair of glasses. When he put them on, I got inexplicably emotional. He was even more handsome to me if that was at all possible. However, the emotion was something deeper. When I reflected on it I realised it was because he suddenly looked older. And that made me happy.
He cuts his own hair and I usually help trim the back for him. Each time, I joke that there is more salt appearing in his dark pepper hair. He is still firmly on the mostly pepper side, but I can see the ratios starting to turn. I like it, he looks distinguished.
Mick and I met when I was 24 and he was 21. We had four years of friendship, alcohol-fuelled parties, watching each other date various people while we shared frequent ‘benefits’ in between relationships. Then I fell pregnant with our daughter. We hadn’t felt compelled to be in a serious relationship prior to the pregnancy, so we decided we shouldn’t force it now, thus committing to raising her as friends. This didn’t always go smoothly, but we did better than expected. When Sahtrea was four months old, Mick moved to PNG as part of a project with Australian Volunteers International. He was away for twelve months, during which time we wrote emails regularly as there was limited phone reception where he lived. I had some bitterness at him for leaving me alone to raise our daughter, however, I now look back on it as the best thing that could have happened. Prior to falling pregnant, we were both typically self-absorbed, immature young adults. A year of Mick living abroad in a remote, primitive part of Bougainville, and me being a single mother, changed us dramatically. The quaint act of communicating through writing, made it easier for us to share really honest and frank thoughts, learning so much about one another.
When Mick returned to Brisbane, we adjusted to co-parenting as he slotted into the routine I’d built for our daughter. Each day after work, he’d come to my townhouse to play with our toddler, who was usually napping the whole time. We had a lot of time to talk. One afternoon I was running late to get home and fretting about keeping him waiting. Eighteen-month-old Sahtrea was fast asleep in the car, oblivious to my panic about getting home to see her Dad. In a cliche scene of realisation, I knew that I wasn’t worried about her missing out on seeing Mick. I was upset about not seeing him myself. I was so stunned by this revelation that I pulled my car over to the side of the road. I’d fallen in love with Mick.
The next few weeks were awkward for me as I tried to simultaneously hide my feelings, while desperately wanting him to see it. In those days I didn’t feel remotely close to being worthy of his love, but it didn’t stop me pining for it. Things came to a head when I showed up to his house one night to dramatically declare that he couldn’t keep playing with my emotions. I had a whole speech prepared. Before I could get it out, Mick calmly stated that he did have romantic feelings for me and thought we should try a relationship. Once I got over my disappointment at having my soliloquy cut off, I was schoolgirl, screaming internally excited. We moved in together almost immediately. With all the normal ups and downs of relationships, we’ve been committed ever since, adding a gorgeous son to our little nuclear family and getting married on a beach in Fiji ten years ago.
So why did seeing Mick getting older make me happy? Because I knew him when he was a juvenile, rowdy young man who had a wicked sense of humour and an appalling dress sense. I’ve been beside him as he developed into the dependable, honest, kind, respectable man he is today (somewhat improved dress sense too!) He has held my hand through a range of challenges, from losing my mother to lung cancer when our son was only four months old, to my dizzying array of career ups and downs, to dealing with my fluctuating mental health, and more recently a family crisis that brought both of us to our knees. He has enthusiastically joined me on travel adventures, including packing our young family up to go live in the Philippines for two years.
We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.
Watching Mick put on his glasses and noting how he has aged alongside me, made me proud to be his witness. It made me grateful that he has been mine. And, it made me eager for all the possibilities that lie before us, knowing that we will witness them together.