Trust and long-term love

Last night, I woke up at about 2:30 a.m., because the puppy was lightly barking in his sleep and my husband was snoring.

And I loved it.

I laid there in the dark and relished the moment.

The sweet noise of those two boys I love so much was enough to almost make me cry.

I just folded my hands and thanked God for everything he’s brought into my life since the day I thought my life was over.

There was that day. I remember saying it. I said, “My life is over. What in the hell am I going to do with my life now? How am I going to make sure all these other people’s lives are going to be OK? I have no idea what to do.”

It was the day after my mother suddenly died and I found myself home from college, for good. I found myself with a family of kids who needed a future. And I found myself with no direction, no idea how to proceed, no idea how to deal with the horrifying feelings inside myself.

And in the dark, as we sat in his dad’s Suburban, on a remote minimum maintenance road by my family’s property called “The West Place,” the love of my life said quietly, “You will have a life. We will do it together. We will figure it out. I promise. You just have to trust me.”

Trust is a hard thing to achieve, isn’t it? You have to believe that someone is completely telling you the truth, that they will be with you no matter what, that they will only have your best interest at heart – even though we are all human and are destined make colossal mistakes because that’s what humans do.

That moment, in that Suburban, was about 35 years ago.

Go back way in time before that – the first time I met Jerry Wilkinson. We were country school kids on a field trip in Omaha in junior high. I still remember what he was wearing, although that’s strange to say. It’s true. He was wearing a lot of denim and I just remember thinking how much I liked him because he was different than all the other boys around me. He was interesting, intriguing. I remember we talked about things the other kids weren’t interested in. I don’t know why. We just did.

When we eventually went to high school together, we were great friends. His connections helped make me not such a geek and his deep voice soothed me through the growing pains of not fitting in. He knew what it was like to be a farm kid in town school, back then, and somehow we could integrate into our new social path. Eventually, we were part of the pack and I loved the experience.

He became my best friend and when he started dating some other girls, I found this strange new emotion called intense jealousy. I realized I was in love. How do you know when you are really in love when you are a teenager? I don’t know. But I was consumed. I had never been in love before and the way I felt, surely it was the real thing.

About the time I graduated from high school, we were dating and I was beyond over the moon. Sure, college brought us break-ups and conflicts because we were still young and still finding our way.

But on that April night, he told me to trust him. I did.

The next December, he asked me to marry him, even though we were barely into our 20s.

He dove in to help raise my sisters, who were so young yet. He had a great sense about money and business and taking care of things. I was just the feeler, the one who wanted to support and love and hang on for dear life.

I guess the yin and yang situation is real.

And there was that whole thing about being totally, head-over-heels-in-love with the best guy I’d ever met.

We got married on November 17, 1990. I was scared he wasn’t coming because there had been a lot of push-back about me being Catholic and he wasn’t. In today’s world, it wouldn’t even be a conversation. But boy, it was back then.

Yet, we took the plunge. When I walked down the aisle, with me having no parents any longer, he met me half-way – because that’s how we were going to live our lives, he said.

We will meet half-way, he said.

And boy, have we ever.

We have been through so much in our lives. We saw kids graduate from high school. They survived and thrived – despite us and our limited experience. They turned into more successful people than we have been and have created a new generation of supreme children. That family tree of mine was never broken — just pruned — and God made sure to bring it back to a flourishing life.

We moved to York with nothing but hope and determination and found our niche – me writing, him cooking. We moved into a little house on Nebraska Avenue and gradually put our stamp on it.

He started his own business. I at first reluctantly stood next to him as he showed the world what he could do. Then I saw what was inside him, considered what I could offer. Well, I thought, I better be more enthusiastic. This is going to turn into something.

He was interested in what I was writing about as I plugged along at the local newspaper.

Our first endeavors grew and there are days now we can’t take a breath because we are so gratefully tired.

But we are OK. We are making it.

We had love and losses. We took chances, realized successes and learned great lessons.

Money was made, money was lost.

Arguments were had, so were the make-ups.

Somehow, we are vastly different people with yet so much in common. We share memories no one else can ever provide and really covet nothing out of regret because we were together along the journey.

He was the one I sat with while Axl Rose sang “November Rain;” I saw my first miracle field goal at Memorial Stadium with him next to me; he photographed me holding hands with Jon Bon Jovi; we saw the ocean for the first time together; we worked day and night to create our mark and still found a way to laugh.

Somehow, meanwhile, the two of us have navigated through decades of crap and joy, mired in remnants of the past with visions of the future. And we did it all without overshoes. Sometimes it felt like walking barefoot on gravel, sometimes like surfing on sand, sometimes bogged down in mud.

Trusting someone, loving someone, without debilitating reservation is possible. And it’s not just about being in love – because love morphs with situations and life stages. It’s about seeing who someone truly is, within their soul. You know? It’s just a true understanding of who you are dealing with and how you can benefit the other. And even if that idea changes, you can adapt, if you believe it is real.

So the other night, while there was all the puppy-dream barking and main-man snoring, I thanked God for that gentleman sleeping next to me. Sure, I knew we’d probably argue in the morning about something stupid and then laugh about something else 15 minutes later – but it was a genuine moment as I realized I trusted him with my life back then and I trust him the same right now.

Trust is a hard thing due to human nature; but every once in a while, it can lead to a love of a lifetime.







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