Today's article is another "Share Your Story," a contribution from blogger,
Kelli of Chronicles of Grace
We meet between the sheets on Memorial Day weekend.
After the tension drains out of our words and the last of the light drips out of the sky. Peace is sewn on like a fresh patch covers a tear, and the threads hold it tight—this old garment, our marriage, with many patches and stitches.
A match blazes in the inky black and comes to life. I transfer the flame slowly to the candle, and watch the room transform.
|Photo by Lel4nd|
I know him well. His rough hands, scratchy beard, and that dimple in his chin. The light flickers, but I don't need it to see what I see tonight.
My fingers trace the vein that emerges from his bicep. The strong arm I have leaned on. The one that has swung a hammer on hot summer days to build a chicken coop and climbed to the tops of trees with active boys and carried seven delicate babies now, even rocked fever-warmed bodies late at night when I've been too tired to get up one more time.
Yes, I have known these arms.
I find his bare back, and I massage here, starting low. I travel up to the neck, pulsing and squeezing, working stress out of those muscles. Memories emerge there, too.
Like the time, (what has it been? fourteen years ago???) that he worked on the water heater in my parents' basement, only to twist that finicky back muscle just the wrong way and end up in the emergency room for a long four hour wait. I had sat with him, enduring the quiet torture of watching a loved one battle excruciating pain. There had been X-rays and prescriptions and, eventually, physical therapy that had made all the difference.
And this neck. Oh, it tells me a story, too. A story of the exuberant, young dad, bounding up steps to his parents cabin on the lake, leaping high in his enthusiastic vibrance . . . until his head collided with the door frame at the top stair. Full force. There had not been any emergency room visit that time, just a funny grinding and crunching of the vertebrae that came to be called normal.
This I have known well.
His hands pass over my hips, with all the longing and magic of their virginal voyage into unchartered waters.
These hips that have spread wide to birth his seven babies. The babies that have shared our bed and our hearts. These babies that almost were not. Because there were years of barrenness. Barren by choice. Barren because of the choice to be thin above all else. Years of feeling those hips as nothing more than skin over bone-->—severe and concave.
But the babies have done their job. They have changed us. They have softened that strict diet and that austere beauty. (If it was ever beauty at all.) They have taught me to give grace, and that to live soft is better than sharp and protruding. So tonight, there's no surprise there—gentle, plush curves long since discovered.
He's so enraptured . . . and I wonder how?? How can he seem so delighted with the shape and the texture when it has been seven times in the last ten years that has witnessed the pink, screaming, vernix-covered baby flesh unfold from within this skin?
Doesn't he remember that when he touches me? Doesn't that kind of a memory burn itself deep, replacing the pleasure and the desire with . . . well, reality? With the far from perfect?
I mean, we have history together, you know? From the starving days to the swelling days to the postpartum and everything in between.
But he seems to be memorizing—hungry—as if he's never eaten this delicacy before.
And I wonder how the belly, stretched all those times, and the breasts, sucked all those long nights by seven babies can hold such intrigue. How can they still satisfy?
I smell the faint whisper of onion on his breath, even stronger and more residual than the toothpaste, and I think it's starting to come apart . . . layer by layer. The candles glow, the flame is steady, if not a bit subdued.
Perhaps this love-making thing is less enhanced by perfection and performance, and more enhanced by the quiet light of memory.
Oh, not the memory of "I've done this before," but the memory of where we've been together. All the paths we've trod and all the fourteen years . . . packed full of days. Moments. Memories.
Where I've known his arms and his back and he's known my bones and my hormones. The places that have torn and the places we have healed.
And maybe it's kind of like my kids' blankets, the ones that have been stitched and patched and well-worn because they are so well-loved. Nothing can take the place of something that has such depth of memory. Not the "better," not the "newer," not the "perfect."
Memory touches places in the soul that nothing else can reach.
And to bring this to the love-making table and taste it as part of the meal, this is the way to truly experience what it is to be knit together. The ties that truly bind.
How we're stitched together by the ribbons of highway we've traveled together and that we look like a patchwork quilt, yes, but we finally find what it is to make love.
On Memorial Day weekend . . . moments given to intimacy and to memory.
The candles burn low and the stitching tightens.
It's dark, but we're close. I breathe peace and I feel what it is to be known.
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