On Easter Sunday I was invited to a lovely family gathering. It has been a long time since I actually spent Easter here on the East Coast, I have been living in the tropics for almost 20 years! The holidays, like the rest of my “real” life are celebrated differently due to many factors, mostly the culture, climate and availability (or lack thereof) of traditional foods that go with the celebrations. But I digress.
Easter Sunday was fantastic until almost the end of the visit when one of the spouses of the couple hosting decided to take a young friend for a practice drive in the family car. It seemed natural enough to me until I noticed that the wife was washing utensils and metal baking pans in anger. Not realizing what I was getting into, I asked innocently whether our hostess was angry, to which she replied “No, I am just not a gentle person.”
When she said this, her husband glanced in her direction and stood by for a moment while she continued with her chore. I sat back and tried to resume my earlier conversation with another guest when I heard a loud crash as metal pan collided against metal sink. At this, the husband replied “Yes, she is angry” and looked to his wife for an explanation which she did not offer.
No one has to be reminded how it feels to be an unwitting participant in someone else’s argument. What followed left me uncomfortable and worried since this young couple is one of my favorites. I could sense they were in for a long night even as the husband led his friend out to the driveway. Although I wanted to stay out of the fight, I am also often given to self-appointed errands of social work and communication. I asked my questions and the answers from our hostess came quickly: she wasn’t consulted, he doesn’t share any information, he doesn’t trust her, a licensed driver, to go out in his car, how come a young unlicensed driver gets to use “her” car without so much as her permission?
I was speechless but also wise enough (or old enough?) to know that this was just the proverbial straw that broke that camel’s back and not the issue itself. My young friend agreed that communication between them had been lacking lately because their work and family obligations had not allowed sufficient time for them to spend together just contemplating the world, their hopes and aspirations, and their place in it.
A few minutes later, everyone came back (safely) and the husband apologized for his thoughtlessness with as much sincerity as he could given the circumstances. The wife graciously (if somewhat detached) accepted it and after a wonderful dessert, we all packed into the car for our return to the train station to head back home. I worried about my young friends as we made our way home but as in many things, I have learned that one cannot do the work that others must do themselves.
That night I had a dream that I remembered all too clearly the next morning. I told it to my daughter, mentioning that it seemed to be a very clear and detailed account of what is going on psychologically for this couple and in many ways for me personally. It had to do with veneers and the crumbling of walls. I don’t know why I didn’t write it down as I was retelling it. I tried to recall it yesterday and came up with only bits and pieces. I will devote some time today to quiet contemplation in the hopes that I can recall it. Always have a paper and pencil handy a friend tells me, one never knows when these gems will appear. I have rarely been able to remember a dream so I have not invested too much effort in the paper and pencil idea. That is about to change.
I spoke with my young friends yesterday and they have worked out a schedule where they are spending at least one day a week together, recapturing the stage in their marriage when they had less obligations and more time. It is a bit of sunshine in these often dark times. Love is always the answer.
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