Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It is Not Enough but It is Not Nothing

Todd came home from work last night and in the middle of the "how was your day"'s and the last minute trying to keep the food from burning while getting it to our plates, he told me he had a podcast for me to listen to over dinner. (To be honest, I kind of hate it when he does this. It's usually something brilliant, something more than my post-work brain has room for, and it delays our watching of last night's Tonight Show.)

He put his phone on the table between us and played this story:

A man met a woman. They fell in love and got married. While they were still in the early years of young love, she was diagnosed with a particularly debilitating form of multiple sclerosis. She lost the ability to walk. She eventually became unable to breathe on her own. Most days she cannot remember their family members or her caretakers. But every day, now 30 years into their marriage, he takes her on a walk to get ice cream. On good days, she can eat a few bites. Then he pushes her wheelchair home and they enjoy the sun on their faces.

And you know what he says about all of this?

It's not enough. 

It's not enough, this sun and the few tentative bites of ice cream and her intermittent recognition of him. It's not right that they have not been able to enjoy full, vital, healthy lives. They have not been able to live the life they wanted and it's not enough.

It is not enough, but it's not nothing either, he says, and they will not despise it.

It's not enough, but it's not nothing.

And I sat there at our table, with my fork of root vegetable puree stopped midway to my mouth, tears pooling and spilling down my face.

It's not enough but it's not nothing.

This life that Todd and I are building, it's not enough. It's not. This life without children and a full table and seeing my husband as a daddy. It's not enough.

I never felt permission to say that before. I think maybe that ingratitude is the worst possible sin. I'm not even sure you can be a Christian and feel ungrateful. And I have so much for which to give thanks. I'm married to the best man I've ever met and he's in love with me. He does the laundry and sings me songs on my work voicemail and stays in the room when we fight even as everything in him tells him to flee this conflict. My toes still curl when he kisses me. We have jobs that pay us more money than 99% of the world will ever see. We have friends we love like family and family we enjoy as if they were friends. 

But it's true. I will say it now. It's not enough.

It's not enough but it's not nothing. 

It is not nothing, this life we are building. It is not as we had planned it, not as we want it, but it is rich, more full of sweetness than I can begin to hold. And I will not despise it.

I think sometimes that I will spend a lifetime learning to hold these two things: the gratitude and the ache.

It is not enough, but it is not nothing.

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