Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I'm suffering from Acute Husband Deficiency.

One definition of "to miss" is "to notice the absence or loss of."

I can't help thinking that there's more than just noticing. I will notice when the butter is gone. This noticing will certainly cost me a pang– butter is butter– there will be a twinge of dismay, a mild irritation, a drop of sadness. Dear butter. What will I do without you?

But when I notice that my husband is gone, it's not as if I murmur, "Oh dear, look, the Pilot is gone. How vexing."

Noticing simply doesn't cover it. That would be like "noticing" the absence of one's hand. Or leg. "Dear me. Whatever has happened to my leg? It was there last time I noticed it."

Another definition says missing is "failing to encounter" something.

That's a better one, I think. I failed to encounter the Pilot this morning when my phone alarm went off so unreasonably early. The covers failed to encounter him leaving the cozy snuggle, and my arms failed to encounter him tugging me out of bed as he so often obliges me by doing (so that I don't have to tug myself out.) All day long I have drifted about to my various tasks and amusements and we simply haven't gotten in each other's way the way we're used to doing.

So perhaps marriage is a promise to permanently get in each other's way, and that's why when one fails to encounter one's spouse getting in one's way, it's such a disconcerting experience. One doesn't like it. One doesn't wish to be able to do whatever one likes without encountering a tangible reaction from one's spouse.

Yesterday, my most annoying classmate said that he's got lots of things he wants to do before marriage ties him down. By all means, then, I want to say to him, go out and do them. You'll have such a lot of fun without anyone else getting in your way, without anyone really caring what you do, or when you'll be home at night, or what you ate for dinner, or how you feel about your life. 

One way to think of marriage is inviting one person to intrude on our private landscape for the rest of our lives.

It's a terrible choice, really: you can either sacrifice all notions of autonomy to one person and consent not only to becoming part of someone else, but to having them become part of you, or you can spend your life trying to keep the intruders at bay. I honestly don't think there is a middle ground, because even if you never get married, you're either going to give yourself away to the people around you or you're going to try desperately to remain intact.

"Love anything," says C.S. Lewis, "and your heart will certainly be wrung and probably be broken."

The proof is in the shattering. I think I would like to submit that as another definition of "missing". Missing someone means you've allowed yourself to be fragmented, and the shards slice blood if you try to snatch them back.

I found a quote by Norman Cousins: "The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness."

Perhaps the only way not to be lonely is to be shattered. Am I really saved if I have not lost myself?

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