Standing inches apart, our reflections, like our married lives, side by side.
And in my head, the lyrics of a Beatles song looping over and over...
Will you still need me?...Will you still feed me?...When I'm...
Well, you know the rest, but the number is not that important. In marriage, whether for ten or twenty or more, occasions arise with a need to keep score.
To wonder how many more we are good for...
Which reminds me of the debate...new or used?
The new ones come with a limited warranty. A promise that if anything goes wrong in the first few years, any damage or undue repairs will be reimbursed. Very little out of pocket expense. Limited risk. An oath, a vow, certified certainty. For the short term. The dings and the dents, the balding of the tires, the scratches and the spills can be fixed up, smoothed over and repainted. At no cost to the owner, as the odometer spins on and on and on.
The used car sits on the lot, the service record and the obvious flaws on display to the naked eye. Yet, as we walk the perimeter and kick the tires, we know that the possibility exists that something rotten may be hiding under the hood. This car has a history, for sure, but it is not our history, it is not guaranteed to be accurate, and it comes with a much more limited warranty and with even greater risk of failure.
Or does it?
Once, many years ago, we bought a brand new car. The odometer read exactly 53 miles, the warranty tucked in the glove compartment, not a scratch or a dent to be seen, as the backhoe on the back road slid into reverse and turned my car into an abused and used vehicle in about twenty seconds. My car sat innocently in Park. Sitting patiently and perfectly still. Until. Bam!
Or the day, the beautiful sunlit, cloudless and windless blissful sky blue morn, when a tree limb the size of a Paul Bunyan toothpick, landed on the roof of my dearly loved and devoutly used Jeep.
Blam! The warranty in the glove compartment shriveled in out-of-date horror.
So..what do new and used cars have to do with marital celebrations?
This letter, as I said in the opening line,
is intended for the man in the mirror.
The man that I married, the man that married me, quite some time ago, back when we both signed on to something new, sealed the deal with a warranty, an oath and a vow, and our signatures on the wedding certificate.
My husband is a quiet man. Not prone to chatter as I am. Over the years, we have had our share of silences, but never ever about cars.
Actually, my secret to breaking any silence, is to reach into the glove compartment for the owner's manual and to ask in a soft breathy voice,
"Why are these Warning lights flashing?"
If I lay my hand on his chest I can feel his heart begin to race and see the flush rise in his cheeks.
It is good to know, after all these years spent together, that I am still able to make his heart race at the sight of me.
Because, as I stand here, looking at the man in the mirror, I see the sight of me and know that I am long past the warranty stage as is he. The wear and tear of the odometer spinning down the miles. The worn tread on the tires, the minor scratches and dents, the fine lines of daily living. The sagging seats and the age spots on the upholstery that come with taking kids along for the ride.
I reach into his pocket to find OUR service history. The chronicle of a life of service to and for each other. There are pages and pages of regular and faithful maintenance, plus a few rather startling and serious causes for alarm. Serious costs for serious and potentially dangerous damage. But at the bottom of each page, gently noted in his careful hand and mine, are the words...
All debts paid in full.
So to the question at hand...
Will you still need me? Will you still want me? When I'm old and gray?
Will you still see me? Will you still heal me?
Will you sing my blues away?
Now that I'm older, not in my prime?
Will you want for more?
We both reach for our reading glasses and squint at the fine print at the bottom of the warranty and smile...
For Better or Worse.
For Richer or Poorer.
For New and For Used.
As the song says...
You are Mine...forever more...
Even when I'm...