The Man I Married

Beth Kissileff in Tablet:

My husband isn’t the same man he used to be. But that’s OK: I’m not the same woman he married, either.

Kissileff_marriage_052913_620pxTwenty-three years later, he still has all his hair, which is barely flecked with gray. (I can’t say the same for my increasingly salt-and-pepper locks.) And though he has gained a bit of weight and rarely wears the jeans I found so attractive when I met him, he is still devastatingly handsome to me. He still loves Billy Joel and the Beatles and has some kind of satellite radio with all kinds of comedy to listen to as he drives to the homes of patients he sees as a hospice chaplain. He can still tell a joke extremely well to an appreciative audience; the late Grandpa Dave, of blessed memory, must be kvelling in absentia every time a good Jewish joke hits its mark. He knows even more about religions of all stripes, working regularly with a huge variety of patients of all religious backgrounds; whenever our kids have a question about other people’s religious practices they are referred to their Abba. We still both read and discuss current events and books we read, and helped each other prepare classes for the recent Tikkun Leil Shavuot. We generally have a discussion about some aspect of the week’s parsha, if only for me to suggest sermon topics or him to help me with a column I am writing. We spent a Shabbat together—sans offspring—to hear Avivah Zornberg speak in a nearby city last year and generally get to see a Shakespeare play, somewhere, every year. But other things have changed unexpectedly. I never imagined the illnesses he’d face, and their gravity. He has a bad back and isn’t always able to do all kinds of physical things that were once simple tasks. This recent recession has hit us hard, and we’ve faced troubles over jobs and housing that now cause him insomnia, which is only exacerbated by the noisy CPAP machine he now needs to sleep. That medicine kit he used to have has grown larger, as has the number of physicians he consults regularly, to manage various medical issues.

He is certainly not the man I married. But unlike my neighbor from all those years ago, I don’t see this as a crisis. Because he’s not the only one who’s changed.

More here.