The picture of the fall flowers on my blog today holds much symbolism. Today is my 6th anniversary to Michael Paul Seale, my best friend and my own "Dread Pirate Roberts". I always go through all our wedding photos with care on this day. It was the most beautiful wedding. The most beautiful day of my life. The Tiffany vase was a gift from my bridesmaids on our wedding day. Basket weave to match my carefully picked out wedding cake. Forget the fight I had with my mom about not paying enough attention to me when I was getting my hair done, or the time I threw the wedding resister gun across the linen section in Macy's at Michael while stomping my feet because he could care less what color towels we picked out. Or the OCD clipboard I carried around our entire wedding weekend to make sure everyone was in their place. None of that really happened....well maybe some of it happened....OK all of it happened. There is a Princes Buttercup inside me dreaming of true love and living out my happily ever after. YET, SO MUCH as happened while we have been storming the castle since our crisp fall October wedding in the foothills of the Appalachians 6 years ago. Like most couples our anniversary marks some unique milestone every year. Last year’s anniversary was one we will never forgoet. Michael and I had just returned home from The University of Alabama Homecoming Game in Tuscaloosa when he looked at me and said, “Baby something is not right, can we go to the hospital?”
Turns out my 38-year-old husband of five years had a heart attack, his LAD artery was blocked and there was an ulterior artery doing all the work. The LAD is also known as the “widow maker.” That is right, the widow maker. October 27th 2012 was a scary day and scary year for our family. Two heart stints later, a Miracle Max of a doctor and a couple visits to The Pit of Despair (not the one from Princess Bride, just St. Vincent's Hospital) Michael is still coaching football, refereeing basketball and filling our living rooms and radios with his infectious laugh on Birmingham Mountain Radio’s Sunday night show Southbound.
Whatever folks make of our unique situation at such a young age, Michael seems to be doing great. For me, and sometimes to Michael's chagrin, our life is on open book and sharing bits and pieces of our story is part of who I am. He understands that it is healing for me, and for that I am thankful. We together appreciate all the concerns, moral support and smiles pointed in our direction. Until you live this heart thing or any illness at such a young age, the strength it takes to get through life is lost within our generation. Living with heart disease is part of our daily routine now and a major turning point in our marriage. It is not a negative thing; it is a gift. Michael listened to his body and got a gift in return, the gift of life and a reminder that at any moment, ones life can change. This is just the beginning.
I am very grateful as I sit here this morning with Michael in my robe with wet hair watching the replay of the Alabama/Tennessee game from last night. Yesterday we had an impromptu football gathering, friends stopping by, great conversation, an open door policy. Lazy fall days like these define my marriage right now. You won’t see pictures of us on Facebook at some fancy restaurant throwing our last paycheck on the table for free range chicken and pumpkin braised cous cous (although that does sound delicious). With our marriage, what you see is what you get. It is not picture perfect. It can be the best of times, it can be the worst of times, and it is now our time. We own it.
Ironically on our anniversary day this year we start the process of saying goodbye to Michael’s Grandmother, Christine who made peace with her maker late this week. She was a strong woman, a southern lady. Always dressed to the nines with earrings to match her favorite blue suit. She may have been quick to judge others at times, but I liked it. I too hold some of those old southern values. For instance not walking to the mailbox or going to the Piggly Wiggly without my lipstick on. Ladies Clubs and Sunday dresses to Church or Synagogue is a must. There is no reason people should wear jeans in the house of God. True Story. I know God does not care, but let’s just look nice it makes it that much more grand and beautiful. She would agree I think. I like the traditional pomp and circumstance. That I know Michael also agrees with too. Tradition. I am thankful since I lost all my grandparents before 23 that I found a kindred spirit in Christine Jones, even if only for a little bit. The woman in both my families are not for the faint at heart. They broke the mold. May she rest in peace.
This past 6 years since I have been married to Michael I have gained a second family, worked hard in a job that I love and worked to find a familiar place in my Birmingham community. I figured out that to be a good wife, friend and daughter is not about serving just one person, idea or expectation all the time. Michael is my person, the one I am strong for when he can’t be. Doing this all while staying true to yourself, your own family, and never forgetting whom your true friends are is very important and hard to do. In my opinion the best way to be a good wife is to submit to your own heart, because from that place the love can only grow outward to all the people around you. A happy wife is a happy life, but we as woman are the only ones that have the key to our true happiness. If I had advice to a new princess bride and how to survive the preverbal Fire Swamp, I would tell her stay true herself, and she will have the strength to be true to everyone else around her. True love can defeat even the Rodents of Unusual Size(R.O.U.S's) when they visit our forest, because they symbolically exist in every marriage and they are sneaky little bastards. (You have to be a Princess Bride fan to understand that one too).
I dedicate this blog to all my best girlfriends everywhere spread around the world.
You know me the best and bring me down to earth when ever I start to float up. Thank you for teaching me and showing women everywhere, in all your own l
life experiences, how to be strong.