When we lived on the East Coast a few decades back, we saw the musical, Wicked, on Broadway. So recently, when the traveling show came west, we were excited to share it with our granddaughters and their parents. As the closing duet, “For Good,” started, so did my tears. The words, “because I knew you, I’ve been changed for the better; changed for good,” got me thinking in this, our anniversary month, about our marriage and my life.
The tangible results of us falling in love includes two girls, ages nine and twelve, who call us Nana and GrDad and delight our lives. Plus their father, whose creative zest and loving ways make us proud, and an amazing daughter-in-law who completes our family with authentic warmth and grace. All four, by their very existence, nudge me toward my better side.
But the intangible impact of falling in love with this man who shares my life is profound. I am a better person because I know him; love him; learn from him. I am more tolerant, loving, curious, adventuresome, joyful, and optimistic because sharing a life with him has enabled me to become a better me.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not claiming some magical happily-ever-after fairy tale experience. I don’t profess a marriage without mistakes, scars, or life-happens-shifts that challenged, pushed, and demanded personal reflection, challenging growth, or renewed focus, individually or collectively. We’ve enjoyed wonderful years, but we’ve struggled through difficult ones, too, and even a few almost-but-not-quite-okay ones.
I don’t know what works for others’ relationships, but I know Dan brings out the best in me in ours, and I hope I do the same for him. He helps me see tomorrow’s sunshine when it’s raining, makes me laugh, challenges my thinking, pushes me from comfort-zones, offers alternative perspectives, and nudges common sense. Yet all the while, letting me be me — talents, shortcomings, technical incompetence, bad spatial relations, sappy sentimentalism and all. By his nourishing my soul, supporting my dreams, and encouraging my life’s passions, I’ve been “changed for good.”
Forty-four years ago, a small group of family and friends gathered on an August day in the mountains to celebrate our simple ceremony of love. “You invent the future that you want to face,” were words we chose to engrave in our rings, plucked from a Fleetwood Mac song popular at the time. It is a vision we still embrace.
In the scheme of things, I honor with love and thoughts many who’ve contributed to who I am. But, what I know about my husband and best friend is this: I am who I am today because he’s in my life. I am a better person than I was before us. In that darkened theater on a Sunday afternoon, I reached for Dan’s hand, squeezing it with love and gratitude while they sang on stage, “For Good.”