He'd never noticed that I swallow really loudly when I'm drinking. He didn't know that I slurp my coffee when it is really hot. He didn't know that the grossest thing in the world to me is a bandaid detached from its human. He didn't know how badly clutter bothers me. He didn't know that I have a habit of leaving the vacuum cleaner out--sometimes for days at a time--and that when I wash bed sheets I often forget to put them back on the bed until bedtime. He didn't know Vicks is an important part of my bedtime routine. He didn't know he would be getting up on a regular basis to check that the doors were locked just to reassure me. He knew I had no sense of smell, but he didn't know how often that would translate into burning things in the oven. He didn't know how often the smoke alarm would sound!
On the other hand, there is much I didn't know about him either when I promised him my love at the ridiculously infantile age of 22.
I didn't know he procrastinates. A lot. I didn't know how loudly he crunches granola in his yogurt early in the morning. I didn't know that I would need to place his bath towel in the hamper myself, or he would use it indefinitely. I didn't know that he is more of a "big picture" fella rather than a "details" guy-that although he would surprise me often with flowers, he would never really remember the ones that are my favorite! I didn't know that he's messy in the kitchen. I didn't know his favorite lounging shoes would one day be Texas Longhorn clogs that I would trip over a dozen times a day. I didn't know that he would have no problem sharing my deodorant when his ran out. (I think I speak for all women out there when I say yuck).
I've decided that in the first 10 years of marriage, these kinds of things might bother us a lot.
In the second decade of marriage, we're simply too busy to give much thought to them.
In the third decade of marriage, those things we thought were big things fade in comparison to real big things. It is in this phase of marriage that I was reminded of one little thing. A little thing I didn't think to love until it wasn't there.
"Don't it always seem to go that we don't know what we got till it's gone."
That is the one thing.
I suppose it was there all along in our marriage--my husband whistling a happy tune. After all, he's a really happy guy. Strangely though, I don't remember noticing it before.
Before. When life was a merry-go-round of spaghetti dinners, three active kids, summers in the river, homemade ice cream, skiing down mountains, hamburgers on the grill, friends and family and birthday parties. I'm sure the whistling was there then. I never noticed it, though.
When those real big things came along, it seemed something went missing from the house. I couldn't put my finger on it. Of course, there were the obvious things that made life significantly more difficult for some years--those joy-sucking soul-bottom dwellers who constantly tried to usurp all the good. But there was something else-- a subtle shift in the atmosphere of home. Something gone. Some little something that had the ability to calm my angst and quiet my soul. Gone. I couldn't put my finger on it. For a few years I couldn't put my finger on it.
I couldn't even give it a name until one day it came back.
Like a familiar, old friend.
It was a whistle. Nothing more. Nothing less. A simple whistle.
It was the morning when the joy-suckers got booted out and hope found its way back to me.
I had yet to get out of bed. It was still dark outside. I could picture where my husband was at that moment--his morning customs were as familiar to me as my own right hand. I knew he would be sitting on the couch in our dimly-lit living room, praying and reading his bible. As I lay in bed a bit longer, waking up and thinking about the day ahead, I heard him move into the kitchen to get the coffee going. And that is when it heard it.
The whistle. The sound of my husband whistling.
That is what I had missed! That is what had left when real stuff happened.
Instantly and miraculously a peace and a hope washed over me--a calmness and relief-- assurance that all was well. It made me smile and cry just a little. The "it-is-well-with-my-soul" kind of tears. God knew that I needed to hear that whistle again. He knew how much I had missed it even though I didn't know it myself.
So the whistle came back with a wonderful vengeance!
When I told my husband exactly what his whistle meant to me, you know what he told me?
He told me that he had basically the same experience. For him, it was my playing the piano. For months, I felt like the music just left me, and I quit playing. But it came back! My husband didn't know he was missing it until he heard it again as he walked up the steps to the house at the end of his day. It told him I was okay. Which made him okay. Which made us okay.
So as the day to celebrate our marriage draws near, I am thankful for so much in my husband. I am thankful he chose me. I am thankful I chose him. I am thankful for the sacrifices he has made for me and for our children. I am thankful for what an excellent father he has been. I am thankful for how he has loved me so, so well.
And I am really thankful that he is whistling once again.
When I imagine us growing old, here is how I see it going down. Me playing a simple tune on the piano with him whistling along.
It is well with my soul.